The Bible Is Not a Book of Love

I have been thinking lately about the Christian symbol of the crucifix. It is almost always seen in settings that attempt to create a mood of peace, calm and serenity: on the walls of churches, in the patients’ rooms in Catholic-run hospitals, in funeral parlors and cemeteries, to name a few.

The ubiquity and familiarity of this icon, I think, often blinds people to what a brutal thing it is. What the cross merely suggests, the crucifix makes explicit. Look at one, or imagine it, and see clearly what it represents: a living man writhing in agony, nailed to beams of rough wood by sharp iron spikes pounded through his hands and feet, left to hang and die a slow and painful death from blood loss, suffocation, and exposure. Crucifixion was intended to be the most agonizing and horrible manner of death imaginable, to serve as a frightening warning to those who would rebel against its inventors. And yet we commemorate this emblem of torture and gory death, with depictions of it in every church, and consider it a source of solace to the suffering and the bereaved. More so, we are told that this horrific act is the linchpin of God’s plan for human salvation, as if supreme love and forgiveness had no choice but to work through a vehicle of almost unimaginable brutality.

This strange intermingling of loving words and peaceful wishes with imagery of horrendous violence is not confined to funerals and other services where the crucifix figures prominently. On the contrary, it is a pervasive theme in religion in general, and Judeo-Christian religion specifically. In “A Book of Blood“, I wrote that because most believers have never read the Bible in its entirety, they are unaware that the familiar passages of love and peace which are so often quoted are not representative of the whole book. On the contrary, these verses are merely islands in a sea of bloodshed, cruelty and hatred in the name of God.

Consider one of the most famous excerpts from the Bible, the 23rd Psalm.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

The gentle and peaceful pastoral imagery of this verse has given comfort to millions of mourners throughout the history of Judaism and Christianity, and there is indeed much beauty in these simple words. But now see some of the other words which the Psalmist spoke and which are recorded in the same book:

Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

—Psalms 2:8-9

Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.

—Psalms 50:22

Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth… let them be as cut in pieces. As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun…. The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.

—Psalms 58:6-10

(Note: Is this a wish that the psalmist’s enemies had been miscarried?)

He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries.

—Psalms 110:6

O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

—Psalms 137:8-9

These wishes of hate and violence – smashing the heathens with an iron rod, tearing and cutting them into pieces, breaking their teeth in their mouths, crushing their children against stones, filling the world with their dead bodies, while all the while the righteous celebrate and rejoice over the bloodshed – are a world away from the peaceful images of the 23rd Psalm. Yet the two are found together in the same book, and according to some theists, are the product of the same writer.

Another frequently quoted passage can be found in 1 Corinthians 13 (RSV translation):

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
…Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away…. faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Again, these are beautiful and moving words. But now consider another passage attributed to the same writer from the same book:

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

—1 Corinthians 14:34-35

These ugly words of prejudice, so sharply at odds with the above advice on love, have been used to justify two thousand years of systematic oppression and mistreatment of women in the Christian tradition. Even today, women are barred from roles of leadership and authority in many of the world’s major Christian denominations because of this passage.

Other epistles attributed to Paul of Tarsus contain verses possibly even more vicious and hateful. Consider this passage from the second epistle to the Thessalonians, in which he expresses the bloodcurdling wish that all non-Christians be consigned to an eternity of torment in hellfire:

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.

—2 Thessalonians 1:7-9

And then there is this passage in which Paul instructs slaves to obey their owners. Advice such as this was used by generations of preachers to defend one of humanity’s most evil inventions ever by claiming that it was a just and proper institution ordained by God.

Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ.

—Ephesians 6:5

The popular impression that the Bible is a good and moral book is is a highly misleading one, produced by selectively emphasizing the few uplifting parts and neglecting or glossing over the more numerous horrifying ones. A more balanced and accurate view, however, would see the Bible for what it is: an anachronistic holdover, a relic of a far more superstitious and savage time that has survived until today. Though it contains the seeds of some good moral ideas, they are thoroughly mixed in with violent and abhorrent ones, and it has taken centuries of moral progress to sift the good ideas from the bad.

I do not mean to suggest that ordinary lay believers are to blame for creating this misleading impression. After all, most of them have never even read the Bible. If there is anyone who bears responsibility, it is the clergy and the theologians who are aware of the Bible’s ugly side and try to downplay or excuse it. But in any case, believers everywhere should be informed exactly what it is that they are believing in. We atheists should make it clear that, contrary to popular belief, the Bible is not a book of love.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Tina

    Is the bible meant to scare us into believing it?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    Yes, absolutely. That is the entire purpose of the doctrine of Hell – a baseless scare tactic intended to terrify people into obedience.

  • http://www.hellboundalleee.com Hellbound Alleee

    The peaceful and comforting passages in the bible are rendered absurd, ironic horrors in light of the context of the teachings of the bible. I cannot lie down by still waters because a totalitarian, murderous all-powerful tyrant tells me to.

  • Loki

    I think they should use Buddy Christ instead. Far nicer.

  • jim coufal

    I have seen the assertion that ordinary lay believers rarely read the bible made in many places. Are there empirical studies that prove this?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    I have seen the assertion that ordinary lay believers rarely read the bible made in many places. Are there empirical studies that prove this?

    Yes. See my post from last March, “A Mile Wide and an Inch Deep“.

  • http://www.dangerousintersection.org Erich Vieth

    Ebonmuse: Thank you for this great collection of Bible excerpts that illustrate your conclusion: Cherry-picking does enable many people to be Believers. Without that technique of cherry-picking, how could anyone convert anyone else? The idea of kind and gentle Jesus is the image that many Christians cling to. But, then again, without the threats and violence in those other passages, maybe the “good” parts wouldn’t convince anyone enough. After all, many of the “good” parts only restate the “golden rule,” a maxim that long predated the Bible. Maybe it’s the good-cop, bad-cop combo that make the sale.

    You’ve also touched on the role of non-sequiturs among those who Believe. That Jesus somehow had to die on the cross in order to save humanity is Exhibit A. How else could an omnipotent God have saved humanity? Let’s see . . . how about waving his Almighty Hand and uttering something like this: “I forgive all of you, even you little babies that would have gone to hell.”

    Saving us THAT way would have been a good way to undo that other non-sequitur: that we were all in need of forgiveness for what Adam and Eve did.

    But there’s another good reason for the kill-your-only-begotton-son version of forgiveness. If God had simply waved his hand and forgiven us, He would have deprived us of a gristly holiday season (don’t forget that Good Friday is a prerequisite for all of that Easter gentleness). To come full circle, it’s that underlying terror, I believe, that keeps that flock flock-flocking along.

  • konrad_arflane

    Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.

    For some reason, it only now strikes me to wonder which law is here referred to. IIRC, elsewhere in the epistles, it is said that “the strength of sin is the law”. Indeed, a couple of Christians of my acquaintance subscribe to the belief that specific proscriptions such as those present in great number in Leviticus are superceded by the much simpler and more general moral ideals of Jesus (love thy neighbour, etc.).

    On another note, regarding the crucifixion of Jesus and the attending suffering:

    I recently came across a nicely screwed up little piece of theology. It took the form of a hymn sung at Easter night vigils. The relevant part was, translating and quoting from memory: “Truly Adam’s sin was necessary. O glorious transgression, that required so great a redeemer”. IOW, the Fall was planned from the beginning, and the subsequent thousands of years of painful childbirth, struggle to survive, and the other curses visited upon mankind for the sins of two people (curses which are still in effect, even after this so-called “great redemption”) were not just side-effects of free will, but preconditions necessary for God’s great plan to unfold. One wonders what the purpose of this plan is. The wording in the hymn suggests to this atheist that it’s really mainly a bit of vanity on God’s part.

  • OMGF

    I just found your blog today and read this post. I’ve often said that Yahweh is quite the war god and calling him the god of love is tantamount to the doublespeak employed in 1984. I’m glad to have stumbled upon your blog today and found similar sentiments expressed. How anyone could base their religion off of a human sacrifice and call it love is just beyond me.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    Also, a note on OMGF’s comments: there are literally hundreds of places in the Bible where God is identified as the “God of hosts”. In modern parlance, “hosts” means “armies”. “War god” is indeed a very apt description of Yahweh.

  • Javaman

    God is a terrorist! The Bible uses repeated images of scences of people burning in hell and being tortured for all eternity. This is clearly a terror tactic to scare people into obedience. Loving God is like being in an abusive relationship which is backed up by an impled threat of you being severely hurt or tortured if you don’t love him. If I have this all wrong and God does exist, he is not worthy of our worship. I have no fear of him. I want to look him in the eye and hold him responsible for all of the harm he has done to his children.

  • andrea

    I don’t know of any studies that show that Christians rarely know their bible, but in my experience it’s very true. We even saw on the Colbert Show that nitwit congressman who wants the 10 Commandments in every building couldn’t even remember what they were.

    It’s typical of the usual salad-bar Christian.

  • http://inthenuts.blogspot.com King Aardvark

    Definitely most Christians haven’t read their bibles all the way through. Go to any church and they will be advertising for Read the Bible in a Year programs to encourage the already devout churchgoers to actually read the bloody thing. I wonder why they bother. They already have them hooked, so isn’t that enough?

    In regards to the horribleness of crucifixion, it’s pretty bad, especially with the Mel Gibsonesque beatings thrown in beforehand, but it pales in comparison to the tortures developed in the middle ages by Christians. For instance, the breaking wheel or the Judas Cradle.

  • http://inthenuts.blogspot.com King Aardvark

    Whoops, real link to the breaking wheel.

  • eye of horus

    Xian iconography in Byzantium does NOT show Jesus upon a cross before 692 CE. In 726 CE, however mobs of iconoclasts destroyed crucifixes but allowed the use of the empty cross to continue. The earliest symbol of Christ is a lamb.

    In Italy, the earliest crucifixes show “Jesus alive . . . with head erect and eyes open.” This is the “triumphal Christ.” Jesus in agony appears only in the middle 1200′s. See “The iconography of Italian art, 1100-1500″ in History of Italian Art vol2. Polity Press. 1994.

    Lack of historical perspective vitiates your viewpoint entirely as far as early Xianity is concerned. A good look at the history of iconoclasm and the derivation of the word ‘iconoclasm’ would do you a world of good.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    “eye of horus”, I have no idea what point you’re trying to make.

  • http://blog.dmcleish.id.au Shishberg

    “eye of horus”, I have no idea what point you’re trying to make.

    Isn’t it obvious? You failed to explicitly mention an obscure and peripherally relevant fact about Christian iconography, therefore your entire premise is invalid.

    Sheesh. Do we have to spell everything out for you?

  • Alex Weaver

    “eye of horus”, I have no idea what point you’re trying to make.

    -Ebonmuse

    It sounds like you’ve found some common ground already.

  • OMGF

    Ebonmuse,
    I’ll have to remember the “god of hosts” thing. I had always simply based it off of god’s bloodlust, like when he orders the genocide of entire peoples (men, women, children, and livestock) or when the only way man can be “saved” is through the ritualistic and cruel sacrifice of a perfect (virginal?) human being (Jebus).

  • schemanista

    EOH: Lack of historical perspective vitiates your viewpoint entirely as far as early Xianity is concerned.

    Wonderful point. The Christianity and contemporary Christian symbolism employed by, say, the Southern Baptist Convention, would be not be instantly recognizable by any of the believers who worshipped at Corinth or Ephesus or Galatia… or formed part of any of the hundreds of Gnostic communities in the late first and early second centuries of the common era.

    For that matter, any of the Italians, circa 1200 CE would find post-Vatican II Catholicism completely baffling although its iconography probably hasn’t changed.

    Unfortunately, Ebon’s strange fixation on the Christianism with which he actually interacts vitiates your attempt at rebuttal entirely.

  • Jeff T.

    There is a church that has a sign in front of it reading: Nails didn’t hold Jesus to the cross. Love did.

    I am always amazed that people believe an omnipotent being would choose crucifixion as a demonstration of love.

    Rather than focusing on the beauty around us, christians focus upon a man struggling and dying upon a cross.

    Christians would have us believe that he did this because of the ultimate sin—the sin of being born a human.

    Christians would have us believe that after creating a universe which is vast and complex beyond our wildest imaginations, the best ‘plan’ for salvation that this omnipotent being could come up with was a Roman death rite. I can’t accept this.

  • believer

    well…you might as well say all you want about the cross,you can twist the meaning as much as you want…but it is the cross the end of my separation from God, because of the cross i was set free and i am secured in God’s hand…it seems unreasonable to you,God did not intended for us to understand why He did such a thing…just believe in it. If it wasnt for the cross i’d be walking in the valley of death just as much you will if you do not believe in the cross after we die. the god you are talking about is not the ONLY ONE TRUE God i believe in, if you do not believe in the bible…let me ask you this, at your job…do you have rules? If someone does something wrong…what happens? do they get a reward?..or when you violate the laws of transit…do you get a reward?? you get paid because you were running more than 100 miles/hr in a school area…i know your answer will be no, so why do you believe in the laws of MEN and not the laws of God??? because it is TOO hard for you to give up your miserable life you are living?

    You guys amaze me!

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    God did not intended for us to understand why He did such a thing…just believe in it.

    I do think “believer”‘s comment above is the internet equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting, “La la la, I can’t hear you!”

  • Polly

    @believer:

    because it is TOO hard for you to give up your miserable life you are living?

    What amazes me is your presumption that everyone here has a miserable life. If your life was miserable, then I’m sorry and I’m glad things seem to be going better for you. But, why project your experience onto others?

    In answer to your question: Yes, I try to obey the laws of man and my conscience. But, I don’t think the laws of god are anything but laws of simple, and often barbaric, men purporting to speak for a god that doesn’t really exist.

    Let me ask you a few questions:

    1. If I jaywalk, do I get a LIFE sentence in a maximum security prison?
      That’s what your bible-god does to even the smallest of sins + torture.
    2. Would you commit murder if your bible-god told you to? Precedent tells us that this is a common thing for him to demand of his followers.
      Examples: Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Saul, and there are many more instances where he condoned and displayed pleasure over the deaths of thousands.
    3. How do you know there’s a Hell or a Heaven? Have you ever seen evidence of either one?
      Have you, personally, ever seen Jesus or anyone risen from the dead?
    4. If Christianity is superior to Judaism because of progressive revelation, then why are you not afraid to burn in Hell for rejecting Allah? Why are Muhammad’s claims to have received a revelation from the angel Gabriel less convincing than the Gospel writers’?
      Shouldn’t we believe the more recent revelation of the Koran or even the Book of Mormon?
  • Alex Weaver

    well…you might as well say all you want about the cross,you can twist the meaning as much as you want…

    Explain, please, how we are “twisting the meaning.” Are you contending that crucifixion was not a form of death by torture? Are you contending that torture is something that should be celebrated, not mourned in the past and vigorously opposed in the present? Are you contending that murder, genocide, and the like are not evil, at least in the context of the Bible (and how on earth would you justify that exception?) Inquiring minds want to know.

    but it is the cross the end of my separation from God, because of the cross i was set free and i am secured in God’s hand…

    And you know this how? Provide some evidence, plsthx.

    it seems unreasonable to you,God did not intended for us to understand why He did such a thing…

    Then it should come as no surprise to you or your alleged god that…

    just believe in it.

    …I can’t.

    If it wasnt for the cross i’d be walking in the valley of death just as much you will if you do not believe in the cross after we die.

    That’s a relief then. I’m pretty convinced that crosses exist, so even in the infinitesimally probable event that you’re right, I’m covered. ^.^

    the god you are talking about is not the ONLY ONE TRUE God i believe in, if you do not believe in the bible…

    This passage makes no sense. “If you don’t believe in what I believe in, then you aren’t disbelieving what I believe in?”

    let me ask you this, at your job…do you have rules? If someone does something wrong…what happens? do they get a reward?..or when you violate the laws of transit…do you get a reward?? you get paid because you were running more than 100 miles/hr in a school area…

    Am I to understand that you only refrain from these things because there are laws against them? If so, stay the hell away from me. And my daughter. Psycho.

    i know your answer will be no, so why do you believe in the laws of MEN and not the laws of God??? because it is TOO hard for you to give up your miserable life you are living?

    For the same reason I don’t take marching orders from my dog (though that might actually be an improvement; “Happy shall he be, that taketh and throweth the little rubber ball across the yard”).

    You guys amaze me!

    Not so much as your ability to talk out of your rear despite it being plugged with your neck amazes me. James Hetfield was right; “Arrogance and ignorance go hand in hand.”

  • schemanista

    so why do you believe in the laws of MEN and not the laws of God???

    So much “teh stoopid”, so little time.

    because it is TOO hard for you to give up your miserable life you are living?

    Is it ever incumbent upon you that your logical assertions should be based on, er, logic? That is, shouldn’t you attempt to ascertain whether or not our lives are miserable before you urge us to abandon them?

    You guys amaze me!

    You seem like the kind of person who would have to stop pissing to watch a fly crawl in front of your urinal.

  • OMGF

    let me ask you this, at your job…do you have rules?

    Yeah, actually we do, and those rules have rational reasons associated with their implementation. “Because I said so” is not a good reason, even when it comes from god.

  • glenn mission

    here people are really proud to belong to the only christian nation in asia, the philippines, but Poll ASIA recent survey around asia says our nation is the #1 in graft and corruption, #2 in poor national security, its sad but true. i only ask, god where are you?

  • Harvard

    Dear glenn
    Did you ever think that perhaps there is no god?
    Do you think there is a link between christianity and corruption?

  • http://auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    I think that with the Bible, Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    Matt

  • Harvard

    glenn? any response?
    ***
    Matt — Interesting statement: “…with the bible, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Please tell more about this idea.

    .

  • http://auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Harvard,

    There are many people who read the Bible, some find it to be wonderful, others find it offensive. Certainly there are those who also are largely unaffected by it. I think that the stronger reactions are, in part, due to what a person brings with them when they come to the Bible. I personally have a very positive frame of reference when I come to the Bible, and I see good things.

    I also find that for the bible to make sense, I have to be asking the right questions. For example, if I ask questions regarding the scientific origin of mankind and such, the Bible will be very frustrating for me to read. When I come with questions like, how do I stop doing these things I hate do to, then I find the Bible very helpful.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Harvard

    Thank you Matt

    I did not grow up with the bible, but I know many of the stories, as probably most people in the western world do. From what I’ve heard, these stories are a compilation of writings by many people over hundreds of years. The stories seem child-like, seem like they were written by and for simple, uneducated, naive people of their era. For example, Adam & Eve and the talking snake, the ark with all the animals and insects, burning bushes, angels, magic tricks, and dead people coming alive again. I wonder what these things are you hate to do that can be answered in a book written in ancient times. Maybe a modern psychology book, or self-help book, or a serious conversation with someone knowledgeable or a professional would be better help.
    I hate myself, too, for some things I do. Mostly, it’s losing my cool and getting angry, hurting the people I love. I believe the stresses of this wild world contribute to the problem. I’ve been reading a book by a psychologist concwerning how to handle stress, and I’ve found it helpful.
    Thank you, Matt, for being so kind to answer my question.

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Harvard,

    The book does not answer the question. The One who the book leads us to does. The Bible did not solve my problems, God solved my problems.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Harvard

    How did the bible lead you to a god?

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Harvard,

    The Bible records the life of Jesus whom I worship as God.

    Matt

  • Pi Guy

    @ebonmuse:
    I’ve been visiting on and off for awhile and, must say, this is a great blog. Quality writing combined with a thorough knowledge of the subject matter and the experience to have heard or seen every lame apologetic canard. Keep up the good work!

    At any rate, on the matter of the Crucifix as a symbol of hope, joy, and love (?) I can only quote the late, great Lenny Bruce:

    “If Jesus had been killed twenty years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks instead of crosses.”

    I’d like to think that if I said this to some of the faithful that the idea would have some impact but just got done reading your “Advice to a Christian” post and have come to my senses again.

  • Pi Guy

    @Matt:

    The Bible purports to record many things. How is it that you know that you’ve been led to god by its words and not, say, Satan? I mean, the Bible is the only book that records his words and deeds as well.

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Hi Pi, (sorry, couldn’t resist!)

    Knowledge is a slippery thing, especially when dealing with spiritual matters. Of course I do not exhaustively know, but I am comfortable that the experiences that I have had and the ideas which I have thought are reliable enough to justify continuing to live my life in the way I have up to this point. Following Jesus has worked out quite well for me so far, so I am going to keep doing it.

    If I am wrong and it turns out that I have been deceived by a supremely evil being then I will just have to suck it up when the time comes because I am doing my best with the tools I have to discern what the truth is.

    Similarly, if there is no God at all, the I will suck that up too and take what comes next the same way I have been doing my whole life. If what comes next is nothing, then that should be easy! :)

    I think that faith in God is rational and has a good foundation in reality, however I personally do not see it as a certainty. Like everyone else, I am trying to makes sense of reality as best I can.

    Hope that helps,

    Matt

  • Pi Guy

    Hi, Matt.

    “Similarly, if there is no God at all, the I will suck that up too and take what comes next the same way I have been doing my whole life.”

    And that is the conviction that (I sustpect) most atheists hold as well. The difference is that, given the the vast number of gods from which to choose there is no rational means by which to choose so I choose none.

    “I think that faith in God is rational and has a good foundation in reality, however I personally do not see it as a certainty.”

    Again, speaking only for myself, that statement is precisely why I don’t believe in god. If it’s rational and has a good foundation in reality then there’s no need for faith.

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Pi,

    Again, speaking only for myself, that statement is precisely why I don’t believe in god. If it’s rational and has a good foundation in reality then there’s no need for faith.

    You make an interesting point and I think it reveals your attitude toward the word “faith”.

    I have a different understanding of the word. Let me try to explain:

    I am convinced that God is there and that Jesus is him, however I do not have absolute “seeing is believing” proof which I can bring to your house and show to you. Therefore I typically use words such as “believe” and “faith”. For me, the word “faith” is essentially believing in something. It could be applied to anything. I think that faith can be irrational or rationally placed in things. It would be irrational for me to have faith that you will come to my house and give me a candy bar full of golden peanuts. It is not irrational for me to have faith that my wife will come home from work tomorrow.

    Maybe this will make it more applicable to you:

    Do you have “faith” that there is no God? What word would you use? In the same way that I cannot prove God, you also cannot disprove God. I imagine that you are quite convinced that God is not there as I am that God is there. There is an inherent level of uncertainty in the matter. I think that neither of us are willing to say that we *know* there is no God. So words such as “believe” and “faith” are warranted. I also think that such words are effectively used to describe situations in which there is conviction but no certainty. Again this conviction can be well-founded or ill-founded.

    It seems to me that what you were conveying in your statement was your belief that you have found no facts which suggest the existence of God to you. Is this correct?

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Pi,

    Regarding religious diversity:

    The difference is that, given the the vast number of gods from which to choose there is no rational means by which to choose so I choose none.

    I think that the rational approach, if one were interested, would be to start examining the major religions and see what you think about them.

    Here are some irrational approaches just for fun.

    You could let the phone book fall open and call the first number you see and then ask them who God is.

    You could send $19.95 to you local televangelist and ask him what God wants you to do. (Although I think we both already know what he would tell you.

    …and finally

    You could go to Burger King and get a kids meal that comes with a Sponge-Bob Squarepants novelty magic fortune teller (these are lots of fun!) and ask it where to find God.

    :)

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Pi Guy

    Matt,

    First of all and most importantly, thank you for conducting this exchange in a civil manner. That’s supposed to be one of this country’s greatest virtues: that we’re permitted – no, encouraged – to openly discuss our different opinoins. That said, it is apparently difficult to have this argument and have both sides keep it courteous.

    It seems to me that what you were conveying in your statement was your belief that you have found no facts which suggest the existence of God to you. Is this correct?

    Not quite. To be clear, I am absolutely certain that I have found no such supporting facts as opposed to believing that I’ve found none. Likewise, I have no evidence suggesting that Zeus, Ba’al, Odin, Ra, Amon, Vishnu, the tooth Fairy nor the Flying Spaghetti Monster(FSM) exist so I don’t believe in their existence. You don’t either, I am certain, for much the same reason, I suspect. I simply go one god further.

    I think that the rational approach, if one were interested, would be to start examining the major religions and see what you think about them.

    That would be rational indeed. It just so happens that I have done that to the best of my ability. On my bookshelf downstairs – you can borrow any of them when you bring me that golden peanut bar! :) – you’ll see that, in addition to the KJV of the Bible, there are also copies of the Tao Te Ching, the I Ching, the Analects of Confucius (Confucionsim is not actually a religion, I found out), the Bagavad Gita, the Koran (for Dummies), the Upanishads (various translations – all hard), and the Way of the Sufi. I may have missed something but I don’t feel like going downstairs to check. To that list I add that I’ve also made the effort to examine non-religous philosphies such as Buddism, Objectivism (a decidely man-centered way of thinking), and the Perrenial Philosophy (by Aldous Huxley of Brave New World fame). This has taken significant effort over the course of 20+ years. On balance, I’d say that I’ve arrived at my conclusions – namely that every society had created their own set of gods to help explain the unknown, reassure the fearful, and ultimately control the people with those fears – rather rationally.

    Now, I put it to you: have you been as rational in your approach prior to concluding that Jesus is the divine son of god? While there’s no way I can be sure, I doubt it. If you had, you’d have many more doubts than you have now, I’ll wager.

    Do you have “faith” that there is no God?

    You’re correct that we may be at cross-purposes using the word “faith”. I looked the word up (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/dict.asp?Word=faith) and you’ll note, if you look, that there are some meanings for that word that are inconsistent, almost contradicory. However, to be clear, if I were to say that I have “faith” that the sun will come up tomorrow, I’m using Def #1: Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing. People of every and no faith also “believe” that this event will occur but that confidence is based upon repeated, successful sunrises. It doesn’t require “faith” in the way that I believe that you use the word (Def 2: Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.), More to the point, I suspect that in your own mind, you’re really using Def #4: often Faith Christianity The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God’s will. At the very least, judging from what you’ve written, I am more confident that the sun will rise than you are that god exists.

    “In the same way that I cannot prove God, you also cannot disprove God.”

    That is absoltely true. However, “proof” is for mathematicians and alcohol and I have no desire to prove to you that god doesn’t exist. If anything, it seems as though you’re still seeking evidence to convince yourself (“inherent level of uncertainty”) as, you note, you’re not certian for yourself. How do you expect to convince me. As they say in legal circles, the burden of proof is on the accuser. Neither you nor I can disprove that the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists (http://www.venganza.org/ ; you should check this site out). If you posit that there is a god and wish to convince others of it, you must produce evidence that is compelling and acceptable to the unconvinced. As far as I know, proof of that nature has never been produced. Ever. That’s what I mean when I say I have “faith” in something.

    Sorry so long but you threw a lot out there.
    Pi

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Pi,

    I thank you as well for a pleasant exchange, it reflects well on your character.

    Please allow me to explain myself in the passages you responded to.

    I think that the rational approach, if one were interested, would be to start examining the major religions and see what you think about them.

    I wrote this because you seemed to present yourself as a person who did not know of a rational way to discern which religion was a true route to God. I inferred this from your statement:

    The difference is that, given the the vast number of gods from which to choose there is no rational means by which to choose so I choose none.

    Based on your reply, I see that you have approached the matter in a way which seems rational. From this, I infer that you were communicating the fact that you have found no reason to accept as true any of the religious systems you have investigated.

    To answer your question about whether I have approached God in a similar manner, my answer is no. I was raised in a Christian household and what I heard in Christianity was and continues to be very satisfying to me. I have investigated other ways of thinking, but probably not in the depth that an unsatisfied person would.

    If you had, you’d have many more doubts than you have now, I’ll wager.

    Well, I think that my investigation into other ways of thinking has led me to change many of my assumptions and ways of thinking. Whether it has raised doubts is hard to address. I think a better way of stating it is to say that now I realize that things are not as simple as I thought they were before. Maybe this will make my way of thinking clear:

    I know that reality is a certain way and nothing I do can change that (except of course, that part of reality which I can alter and I think that the existence of God is outside that part.) Therefore I think my beliefs should be descriptive and not prescriptive. The word “doubt” in religious terms tends to carry with it the connotation of being afraid of being wrong, in my experience. I do not struggle with that very much because I have come to grips with the fact that God’s existence or non-existence will not be altered by my beliefs, so I am free to follow that which seems most reasonable to me.

    At the very least, judging from what you’ve written, I am more confident that the sun will rise than you are that god exists.

    It would be hard to quantify such a subjective thing, that is, is one person more certain of something than another. I will say that you should not mistake my humility in admitting that I do not know everything for a paucity of certainty regarding God’s existence. It is more accurate to say that there are certain concrete properties of God and aspects of existence which are usually correlated with the supernatural that I am uncertain of.

    That is absoltely true. However, “proof” is for mathematicians and alcohol and I have no desire to prove to you that god doesn’t exist. If anything, it seems as though you’re still seeking evidence to convince yourself (“inherent level of uncertainty”) as, you note, you’re not certian for yourself. How do you expect to convince me. As they say in legal circles, the burden of proof is on the accuser. Neither you nor I can disprove that the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists (http://www.venganza.org/ ; you should check this site out). If you posit that there is a god and wish to convince others of it, you must produce evidence that is compelling and acceptable to the unconvinced. As far as I know, proof of that nature has never been produced. Ever. That’s what I mean when I say I have “faith” in something.

    First off, let me tell you that I knew the infamous FSM would rear his marinara-saturated head in this discussion. I was as certain of it as I was of the sun rising tomorrow! :)

    Please understand that my comment regarding one’s inability to disprove/prove God’s existence was not an attempt to convince you of anything. It was support for my argument regarding the appropriate use of the word “faith”. I would not be so silly to use such poor reasoning if I were attempting to prove something to you.

    Furthermore, you have quite mistaken my purpose if you think that I am trying to prove to you that God exists. Indeed, I have declared it impossible. My point in posting here is to provide my insight into questions or assertions that are raised here. I know that most Christians try to convince people of things, however I prefer to tell people my understanding of what Christianity is, what the Bible says, and what I have experienced and then let them hash it out for themselves. It is your life and I fully intend to let you live it. If God has seen fit to let you make up your mind for yourself, then I certainly will not interfere.

    I now will take a moment to apologize for my gargantuan post.

    Have a nice day,

    Matt

  • Harvard

    Hello Matt
    I went away for awhile.

    You said : “The Bible did not solve my problems, God solved my problems.”

    What were these problems? Did a god tell you the solution to the problem? How did this problem solving happen?
    .

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Harvard,

    God helps me love other people, appreciate life, live with an attitude of contentment and peace, and it appears as though God was the illusive, intangible thing which I had been longing for for many years. When I follow God, I feel fulfilled and at peace. God has also helped me overcome specific obstacles to good living which I prefer to remain vague about at this time.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Pi Guy

    @Matt:

    “I know that most Christians try to convince people of things….It is your life and I fully intend to let you live it.”

    Thank you. While no one speaks for all non-believers, I think that I can safely say that, if it weren’t for the fact that so many Christians are trying to convert us or condemn us, or weren’t urging the government to enact discriminating laws, or force science teachers to lecture on matters that are decidedly un-scientific, or assert that the President of the US must be a believer, then this forum would not likely exist. The “Atheist Backlash” (can’t remember where I read that but it was addressing the preponderence of anti-theist books on the Best Seller List) is a reaction to this increase in (faux, in my opinion) religious fervor.

    I am pleased to note that you don’t seem to be among those who would wish to force that agenda on everyone else and, again, you have my respect. For the most part, I believe that atheists would be perfectly content with the world if all believers felt as you do.

    Pi

  • Harvard

    Hello Matt

    You said a god solved your problems.
    How did this happen? Did you tell him or her your problem? Did he or she talk to you, give you advice?

    .

  • Petrucio

    Indeed Matt, the question of hoe Gow helped you is a very valid one. Harvard is not interested on what problems you have, but exactly HOW did God helped you solve them.

    I’m guessing that you fixed the problem on your own, but somehow using God to give you strengh, guide your actions, or something like that. Or maybe something happened that could have happened by others means (winning a lottery) and you are attributing that to God.

    In other words: You helped yourself, or something that could be explained by something other than God helped you? Or God really did, literally, somehow, help you?

  • http://auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Harvard and Petrucio,

    I now realize that I did not adequately answer your question, Harvard. I was not intentionally dodging it because I think it is a very valid question. I also think that often, the things I attribute to God are indistinguishable from things I am able to do myself to others, and sometimes even to myself.

    To answer harvard’s question, God changed the way I felt about something, and that is the simplest way I can put it. I prayed about my problem and over the next few days, I realized it was gone. It just left. There was no light, no angels, no tingly warm feeling or anything. No one did anything special to me in Church. I just prayed and it was gone. I have had many “smaller” experiences like this, but this one was the most dramatic and amazing. I really do not see how I can chalk it up to my own ability alone. Of course I *wanted* to change, but I was unable up until that time.

    To be completely honest with you, I would probably be agnostic or atheist if it were not for this experience. I find the Bible to be very difficult to understand and agree in places. I probably agree with you guys on more things than I agree with my fellow Christians on. Despite this, I cannot explain the things which have happened to me adequately without some sort of exterior involvement. It defies my logic but there it is.

    Also, I do not base my entire lifestyle off of one experience. I have had many, I simply use the one in question (ironically one that I am not comfortable giving details on) as the most outstanding example.

    Petrucio, you are correct in saying that many things which I and others attribute to God may very well be our own doing. I know that there are many things in my life which I certainly seem to have solved all by myself, however I have had many things which really seem to be the work of an external force working in me and with me.

    I hope this is lucid, I wrote it quickly over lunch.

    Have a nice day,

    Matt

  • Harvard

    Hello Matt

    Let’s consider your quotation:

    —-”God changed the way I felt about something … I prayed about my problem and … It just left. … I just prayed and it was gone.”—–
    .

    First, it is difficult to understand your experience without the specific facts.
    What was the problem? Statements without details are empty (Please, no offense).
    Second, you speak of a god. What evidence do you have that he or she or it has heard your prayer? Did this being talk to you? How did it communicate to you that it heard your prayer and solved your problem?
    .

  • Harvard

    Hello Matt

    Let’s consider your quotation:

    —-”God changed the way I felt about something … I prayed about my problem and … It just left. … I just prayed and it was gone.”—–
    .

    First, it is difficult to understand your experience without the specific facts.
    What was the problem? Statements without details are empty (Please, no offense).
    Second, you speak of a god. What evidence do you have that he or she or it has heard your prayer? Did this being talk to you? How did it communicate to you that it heard your prayer and solved your problem?
    .

  • Harvard

    Matt? Hello?
    Any details or evidence?

  • Harvard

    Matt? Hello?
    Any details or evidence?

  • http://auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Hi Harvard,

    School has been busy, thus the delayed replies. Sometimes I only post in one place due to my busy schedule.

    Here are the details of my problem:
    Like most adolescent boys I liked to look at porn. As I grew older I decided that that was not a good thing for me to get involved with and I wanted to stop but I could not. After I got married, I quit for a little while, but then fell back into it. At that point I asked God to help me with it. After a few days, I realized that the desire was gone.

    I heard no voices, no flashes of light, just a dramatic change in the way I was. It is an inference that I attribute this to God.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Hi Harvard,

    School has been busy, thus the delayed replies. Sometimes I only post in one place due to my busy schedule.

    Here are the details of my problem:
    Like most adolescent boys I liked to look at porn. As I grew older I decided that that was not a good thing for me to get involved with and I wanted to stop but I could not. After I got married, I quit for a little while, but then fell back into it. At that point I asked God to help me with it. After a few days, I realized that the desire was gone.

    I heard no voices, no flashes of light, just a dramatic change in the way I was. It is an inference that I attribute this to God.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Polly

    Not surprising to me, since I always figured that was it, but I can’t believe you said it. You’re a courageous guy in my mind because you admitted something that I would never have admitted as a Xian. (Hope your wife doesn’t read this blog :))
    I didn’t think you owed anyone an explanation. But, I hope you’re better off for having made the “confession” – being good for the soul and all. If there were/is a god, I think he’d be happy with you…or maybe he likes to eat humans with crackers. Who knows???

    You seem closer to fundie than liberal in your morals, but closer to moderate in your biblical exegesis of Hell and view of inerrancy (open to doubt?).
    Why do I feel the need to label everyone?

  • Polly

    Not surprising to me, since I always figured that was it, but I can’t believe you said it. You’re a courageous guy in my mind because you admitted something that I would never have admitted as a Xian. (Hope your wife doesn’t read this blog :))
    I didn’t think you owed anyone an explanation. But, I hope you’re better off for having made the “confession” – being good for the soul and all. If there were/is a god, I think he’d be happy with you…or maybe he likes to eat humans with crackers. Who knows???

    You seem closer to fundie than liberal in your morals, but closer to moderate in your biblical exegesis of Hell and view of inerrancy (open to doubt?).
    Why do I feel the need to label everyone?

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Hey Polly,

    You seem closer to fundie than liberal in your morals, but closer to moderate in your biblical exegesis of Hell and view of inerrancy (open to doubt?).

    Regarding inerrancy, it seems that there are too many exegetical backflips one must do to maintain the strictest form of inerrancy. I have serious questions about a lot of the historical books of the Old Testament. Nevertheless, when I read the Bible, I find something, and it is good. It is hard for me to explain.

    I have intellectual problems with many traditional christian doctrines. They just do not make sense to me in any way. Despite this, I have found something special in following Jesus, again, hard to nail down what it is. The popular view of hell really bothers me and I hope that it does not turn out to be accurate, but maybe it is unavoidable, even for God.

    Basically, I am comfortable with unanswered questions about God and Jesus because I feel that I have found enough answers to satisfy me. I compare it to my views on evolution.

    To be quite frank with you, the concept of evolution is very counter-intuitive to me. I feel it most strongly when I study the mechanics of the human body. I am in physical therapy school and the precision and adaptability of the mechanisms of our body boggle my mind and defy evolution, to me. However, I also understand the strong genetic evidence which points strongly toward evolution. It points so strongly that I am comfortable accepting something which on the surface seems very counter-intuitive.

    That is how it is with my religion. I have found enough good answers so that I feel comfortable trusting in some unanswered questions and counter-intuitive situations.

    I also am very comfortable with a fluid concept of the divine. I feel like there is a tendency to define God with very concrete labels and ideas; to draw boundaries and make categories and say “this is God” or “God is here”. When I was younger, I think that was good for me, but the more of life I see, the more fluid my concept of God becomes. It is a very liberating experience.

    So… I guess if you always have to label everyone, I always have to pontificate to everyone… :)

    Have a great weekend!

    Matt

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Hey Polly,

    You seem closer to fundie than liberal in your morals, but closer to moderate in your biblical exegesis of Hell and view of inerrancy (open to doubt?).

    Regarding inerrancy, it seems that there are too many exegetical backflips one must do to maintain the strictest form of inerrancy. I have serious questions about a lot of the historical books of the Old Testament. Nevertheless, when I read the Bible, I find something, and it is good. It is hard for me to explain.

    I have intellectual problems with many traditional christian doctrines. They just do not make sense to me in any way. Despite this, I have found something special in following Jesus, again, hard to nail down what it is. The popular view of hell really bothers me and I hope that it does not turn out to be accurate, but maybe it is unavoidable, even for God.

    Basically, I am comfortable with unanswered questions about God and Jesus because I feel that I have found enough answers to satisfy me. I compare it to my views on evolution.

    To be quite frank with you, the concept of evolution is very counter-intuitive to me. I feel it most strongly when I study the mechanics of the human body. I am in physical therapy school and the precision and adaptability of the mechanisms of our body boggle my mind and defy evolution, to me. However, I also understand the strong genetic evidence which points strongly toward evolution. It points so strongly that I am comfortable accepting something which on the surface seems very counter-intuitive.

    That is how it is with my religion. I have found enough good answers so that I feel comfortable trusting in some unanswered questions and counter-intuitive situations.

    I also am very comfortable with a fluid concept of the divine. I feel like there is a tendency to define God with very concrete labels and ideas; to draw boundaries and make categories and say “this is God” or “God is here”. When I was younger, I think that was good for me, but the more of life I see, the more fluid my concept of God becomes. It is a very liberating experience.

    So… I guess if you always have to label everyone, I always have to pontificate to everyone… :)

    Have a great weekend!

    Matt

  • Joy

    hello. I actually was just surfing the net because a best friend of mine suddenly announced to me her disgust in the Bible and God, and this made me feel the need to find out why. I have been reasearching for hours, and this conversation between Matt and everyone is so intriguing. I am looking for advice and opinions, if Matt or anyone would like to talk please email me at joy2zworld@hotmail.com. Thank you so much!

  • Joy

    hello. I actually was just surfing the net because a best friend of mine suddenly announced to me her disgust in the Bible and God, and this made me feel the need to find out why. I have been reasearching for hours, and this conversation between Matt and everyone is so intriguing. I am looking for advice and opinions, if Matt or anyone would like to talk please email me at joy2zworld@hotmail.com. Thank you so much!

  • sierra

    I came across this site in efforts to read and gain a variety of perspectives. My best friend recently told me she is disguted with God and the Bible and I am looking for opinions and reasons pointing towards why.

    The dialogue between Matt and everyone is very intriguing- I am so impressed by the maturity and humility everyone has…

    I am searching for her sake, but also mine.

  • sierra

    I came across this site in efforts to read and gain a variety of perspectives. My best friend recently told me she is disguted with God and the Bible and I am looking for opinions and reasons pointing towards why.

    The dialogue between Matt and everyone is very intriguing- I am so impressed by the maturity and humility everyone has…

    I am searching for her sake, but also mine.

  • sierra

    What are everyone’s views on homosexuality, for example? Does is seem that the Bible condemns this act too harshly? This is one subject of which I have many questions.

  • Alex Weaver

    I think the consensus here is for the most part that condemning the act AT ALL is wrong.

  • Alex Weaver

    I think the consensus here is for the most part that condemning the act AT ALL is wrong.

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    Welcome, Sierra! If you hold a view of morality which focuses on preventing suffering and increasing happiness then there is absolutely nothing wrong with homosexuality. So we shouldn’t condemn it at all. You need a big reason to justify depriving one tenth of the human race of their sexuality.

  • Ex Patriot

    This just reafirms my convictions and reasons for being a Atheist ever since I quit believing in fairy-tales.I am now 70 years old and my non-belief has grown stronger and stronger over the ensuing years. Thank you for your site.

  • Ex Patriot

    This just reafirms my convictions and reasons for being a Atheist ever since I quit believing in fairy-tales.I am now 70 years old and my non-belief has grown stronger and stronger over the ensuing years. Thank you for your site.

  • Timmy

    Hey everybody! As an atheist, I’m glad to have found this site.
    I really did enjoy the conversations between Matt and the others. It is the same relationship I had with my boss, except we were more mean(in a totally friendship way)about our discussions, but the same idea. One argument that I did not see mentioned yet was whether the judeo-xian god could exist based on his characteristics. I will post a link to the original argument I read, but due to time I’m going to try and give it myself.
    Matt: would you agree that for your deity to be who he is that he has to be omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent? That he must have all three characteristics to be that deity? For the majority of xians that is the case, from my experience growing up in Alabama(the bible belt). The argument is derived from the concepts of suffering and free will.

    Why should there be suffering? Some say that you can’t have happiness without suffering to compare it to. Suffering is not the opposite of happiness, just the absence of it. Just like cold is not the opposite of heat, just the absence of it. Compare happiness to heat. You have varying degrees of heat: freezing, chilly, neutral feeling, warm, hot, burning, nuclear :-) So saying we can’t have happiness without suffering to compare it to doesn’t hold. Did god not know how to create the universe without suffering? If so, the he is not omniscient. Did he know how but not have the power? Then he is not omnipotent. Did he have the power and knowledge but not the will to? Then he is not benevolent. That shows in three different ways that for the universe to be the way it is, your deity has to give up one or all of those characteristics. Therefore, the god believed in by most xians can not possibly exist. QED. (sorry, I’m a mathematician…)
    I am quite interested in your thoughts on that argument. My old boss couldn’t provide an explanation on that. I hope I caused no offense. I am great with numbers, but horrible with speech ;-)

  • Timmy

    Hey everybody! As an atheist, I’m glad to have found this site.
    I really did enjoy the conversations between Matt and the others. It is the same relationship I had with my boss, except we were more mean(in a totally friendship way)about our discussions, but the same idea. One argument that I did not see mentioned yet was whether the judeo-xian god could exist based on his characteristics. I will post a link to the original argument I read, but due to time I’m going to try and give it myself.
    Matt: would you agree that for your deity to be who he is that he has to be omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent? That he must have all three characteristics to be that deity? For the majority of xians that is the case, from my experience growing up in Alabama(the bible belt). The argument is derived from the concepts of suffering and free will.

    Why should there be suffering? Some say that you can’t have happiness without suffering to compare it to. Suffering is not the opposite of happiness, just the absence of it. Just like cold is not the opposite of heat, just the absence of it. Compare happiness to heat. You have varying degrees of heat: freezing, chilly, neutral feeling, warm, hot, burning, nuclear :-) So saying we can’t have happiness without suffering to compare it to doesn’t hold. Did god not know how to create the universe without suffering? If so, the he is not omniscient. Did he know how but not have the power? Then he is not omnipotent. Did he have the power and knowledge but not the will to? Then he is not benevolent. That shows in three different ways that for the universe to be the way it is, your deity has to give up one or all of those characteristics. Therefore, the god believed in by most xians can not possibly exist. QED. (sorry, I’m a mathematician…)
    I am quite interested in your thoughts on that argument. My old boss couldn’t provide an explanation on that. I hope I caused no offense. I am great with numbers, but horrible with speech ;-)

  • Sick of Religious Nuts

    I think the big reason Christianity never appealed to me is that the main message was totally negative-

    “Worship jesus, or burn in Hell. Period.”

    Jesus does come accross as a peacfull fellow, but those preeaching his name threaten people with eternal damnation if they don’t worship Jesus as a god.

    There’s no love there….
    It’s like a guy putting a gun to his wife’s head and saying ‘love me, or I’ll shoot you’.
    Is love created out of fear really love?

  • Becky

    When I think about the savage men who conjured up the OT god I think about the animal kingdom with it’s alpha males who rule over the weaker animals. The strongest and most cunning among them becomes the alpha due to brute force, thus controling the others through fear. Sound familiar? Somewhere way back in the beginning that alpha trait woke up in man and those alphas used brute force to control the others. Soon brute force gave way to thought. It was much easier to invent an invisible deity who only speaks through the alphas to keep the masses under control..The alphas wanted food so they told the others god needed to be honored with a feast. The alphas wanted a better place to sleep so they told the others god needed a house to be worshipped in. Soon the alphas saw land belonging to another tribe and they wanted it so they told the others these people were evil and god had commanded them to kill them and take the land for god! The alphas saw treasures and women belonging to others and they lusted for those things. They told the others the men were evil and to destroy them and keep the bounty and women that appealed to them. That is a rough idea I had of how things may have gotten started. I saw a clip of alphas in the gorila kingdom and that fat alpha looked and sounded like John Hagee!

    People started out ignorant and very superstitious. They were easy to fool by those who had the alpha ability. The alphas rarely work, they are catered to by the simple ones. To anger the alphas is to anger the god. People still look to the human alphas to lead them. The alphas still look to the deceived to house, feed and heap honor on them. They have the best of everything and it is paid for by the faithful and sadly still deceived minions. The government taxes us to death and the church takes it’s cut from us too while they remain tax exempt. If people haven’t awakened by now, I don’t see much hope of it ever happening.

  • Becky

    When I think about the savage men who conjured up the OT god I think about the animal kingdom with it’s alpha males who rule over the weaker animals. The strongest and most cunning among them becomes the alpha due to brute force, thus controling the others through fear. Sound familiar? Somewhere way back in the beginning that alpha trait woke up in man and those alphas used brute force to control the others. Soon brute force gave way to thought. It was much easier to invent an invisible deity who only speaks through the alphas to keep the masses under control..The alphas wanted food so they told the others god needed to be honored with a feast. The alphas wanted a better place to sleep so they told the others god needed a house to be worshipped in. Soon the alphas saw land belonging to another tribe and they wanted it so they told the others these people were evil and god had commanded them to kill them and take the land for god! The alphas saw treasures and women belonging to others and they lusted for those things. They told the others the men were evil and to destroy them and keep the bounty and women that appealed to them. That is a rough idea I had of how things may have gotten started. I saw a clip of alphas in the gorila kingdom and that fat alpha looked and sounded like John Hagee!

    People started out ignorant and very superstitious. They were easy to fool by those who had the alpha ability. The alphas rarely work, they are catered to by the simple ones. To anger the alphas is to anger the god. People still look to the human alphas to lead them. The alphas still look to the deceived to house, feed and heap honor on them. They have the best of everything and it is paid for by the faithful and sadly still deceived minions. The government taxes us to death and the church takes it’s cut from us too while they remain tax exempt. If people haven’t awakened by now, I don’t see much hope of it ever happening.

  • Becky

    Matt, your post really confused me. The bible says if you are born again you cannot sin because you have been made a new creature in Christ. It also says that it is impossible to sin if you are saved. Of course Paul came along with a new doctrine of Grace where you can sin all you want to and the Grace will abound even more. Go figure.

    Christians divorce at the same rate as non-christians and do the same ‘sinful’ things. I think the difference is non-believers don’t blame what they do on an imaginary devil. If I do wrong, it was all my fault and no evil deity talked me into it.

    As for answered prayer, my thoughts go like this. If you knew it was wrong all along, why did you wait so long to pray about it if you believed god would help you? It just seems to me when you finally got to the point of seeing for yourself what you were doing was not right for you and you grew tired of it, you at that time had the will to stop. You would have conquered your problem whether you prayed or not.

  • http://neoprogrammics.com JayTan

    There is still no proof that the biblical Jesus ever existed!

    Not one atom of evidence!

    There is more evidence of Bigfoot and Nessie than there is of Jesus!
    LOL

    To me, this is a very important point.

  • Seth P.

    JayTan,

    The testimony of the Gospels, early church fathers and Josephus, a first century Jewish historian, count for significantly more than unconfirmed sightings and fake photographs. You can doubt their motives all you want, but that’s more than an “atom” of evidence.

    seth

  • OMGF

    Seth,
    The gospels are not eye-witness or first hand accounts, early church fathers never wrote about Jesus during his lifetime nor did Josephus, and Josephus’s writings are rather arcane and could have been about anyone really – they sound like hearsay to boot. If you accept that evidence, then I suppose that you find the evidence for Zeus to be pretty good as well? There are, after all, many accounts of the deeds of Zeus.

  • Tomas S

    Jay Tan:

    There is still no proof that the biblical Jesus ever existed!

    Not one atom of evidence!

    I can agree with the first assertion, but the second seems a little overstated. It was interesting to read in The God Delusion about the “cargo cults” which (in at least one case) claim eye-witness accounts of a person who lived only a few short decades ago, yet of whom nobody can find any outside evidence. Dawkins didn’t spell it out, but it casts a good amount of doubt on Seth’s evidence two posts above (as clarified by OMGF.)

    Of course, given the implications of beliving in Jesus vs, say, believing in Abraham
    Lincoln, I hope Seth can agree that more than a few “atoms” of evidence are required, and that the standard of proof is higher for the Resurection than for the Gettysburg Address.

  • Randall

    Before everything: I am Catholic, and so my posts will be based on Catholic doctrine. Do not ask me to defend religious fundamentalism, especially Christian fundamentalism, because I do not believe it to be correct; I consider it harmful, as almost everyone on this site seems to do, and I will argue against it wherever possible.

    Tacitus chronicles the existence of a Jesus of Nazareth (although admittedly not by that name) This constitutes at least an “atom” of evidence, I think. It depends on how you define “evidence.”

    “The bible says if you are born again you cannot sin because you have been made a new creature in Christ. It also says that it is impossible to sin if you are saved.”

    Where does it say that?

    In response to Becky: you need to desire a change in order for change to happen. Many things I would consider morally corrupt – adultery, being angry, stealing – are enjoyable or produce enjoyable results. If you are praying for help, you have to want to be helped, and often whatever sin you are praying for help with may be too attractive to want to let go.

    “Consider this passage from the second epistle to the Thessalonians, in which he expresses the bloodcurdling wish that all non-Christians be consigned to an eternity of torment in hellfire:”

    The passage in question doesn’t say “non-Christians.” It says “those who do not know God” and “those who do not obey the Gospel.” In my eyes and that of my religion, this does not mean “non-Christians” – it means people who do evil and who are unrepentant. In other words, it means those people whom justice would need to punish anyway. I don’t know many people who would claim that Christians have a monopoly on morality, which is to say, a monopoly on “knowing God.”

    Related to the above post, I’d like to say something about Hell. God does not condemn people to hell. This is impossible. Hell is a state of complete and utter separation from God; it can only be attained by an informed and unrepentant rejection of God and a decision to remain in a state of immorality. No one can go to Hell who does not choose it by their actions and their refusal to repent. Even if you do not believe that God is loving, self-consistency would prevent Him from willingly separating people from Himself. Jesus’ death on the Cross existed for precisely the opposite purpose – to allow people to reach a union with God that would otherwise be impossible. The popular belief of a God who damns people for their sins is not consistent with Christian doctrine; this could only occur if those people did not want forgiveness. In that case, God would have to force people to be forgiven, and this is something He cannot, or will not, do.

    Thanks for bearing with me through this long post!

  • Randall

    Before everything: I am Catholic, and so my posts will be based on Catholic doctrine. Do not ask me to defend religious fundamentalism, especially Christian fundamentalism, because I do not believe it to be correct; I consider it harmful, as almost everyone on this site seems to do, and I will argue against it wherever possible.

    Tacitus chronicles the existence of a Jesus of Nazareth (although admittedly not by that name) This constitutes at least an “atom” of evidence, I think. It depends on how you define “evidence.”

    “The bible says if you are born again you cannot sin because you have been made a new creature in Christ. It also says that it is impossible to sin if you are saved.”

    Where does it say that?

    In response to Becky: you need to desire a change in order for change to happen. Many things I would consider morally corrupt – adultery, being angry, stealing – are enjoyable or produce enjoyable results. If you are praying for help, you have to want to be helped, and often whatever sin you are praying for help with may be too attractive to want to let go.

    “Consider this passage from the second epistle to the Thessalonians, in which he expresses the bloodcurdling wish that all non-Christians be consigned to an eternity of torment in hellfire:”

    The passage in question doesn’t say “non-Christians.” It says “those who do not know God” and “those who do not obey the Gospel.” In my eyes and that of my religion, this does not mean “non-Christians” – it means people who do evil and who are unrepentant. In other words, it means those people whom justice would need to punish anyway. I don’t know many people who would claim that Christians have a monopoly on morality, which is to say, a monopoly on “knowing God.”

    Related to the above post, I’d like to say something about Hell. God does not condemn people to hell. This is impossible. Hell is a state of complete and utter separation from God; it can only be attained by an informed and unrepentant rejection of God and a decision to remain in a state of immorality. No one can go to Hell who does not choose it by their actions and their refusal to repent. Even if you do not believe that God is loving, self-consistency would prevent Him from willingly separating people from Himself. Jesus’ death on the Cross existed for precisely the opposite purpose – to allow people to reach a union with God that would otherwise be impossible. The popular belief of a God who damns people for their sins is not consistent with Christian doctrine; this could only occur if those people did not want forgiveness. In that case, God would have to force people to be forgiven, and this is something He cannot, or will not, do.

    Thanks for bearing with me through this long post!

  • OMGF

    Randall,
    At what time did Tacitus do this, and what parts are you referring to? This is especially important if he was talking about someone else.

    Related to the above post, I’d like to say something about Hell. God does not condemn people to hell. This is impossible. Hell is a state of complete and utter separation from God; it can only be attained by an informed and unrepentant rejection of God and a decision to remain in a state of immorality.

    god is the one who ultimately must separate herself from us, so it is god’s actions that send us to hell. Further, it is god who has set up the rules for what one must do/believe/etc. in order to not be consigned to hell. Third, your own doctrine teaches that we are born with original sin, meaning that we will go to hell without god stepping in and giving us his grace. Why would god set up a system like that if he did not desire anyone to go to hell?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    Randall is correct about the Tacitus reference, though I don’t find it especially compelling evidence myself. I wouldn’t say that there’s not a single atom of evidence for the historical Jesus, though I certainly find the case doubtable.

    It says “those who do not know God” and “those who do not obey the Gospel.” In my eyes and that of my religion, this does not mean “non-Christians” – it means people who do evil and who are unrepentant.

    The only problem with this, Randall, is that the Bible and Christian doctrine have always identified improper belief as itself an act of evil deserving death. The Old Testament orders the immediate execution of anyone who believes in other gods (Deuteronomy 13:6-10). Even Jesus says that those who don’t wish to follow him should be put to death (Luke 19:27), and the epistles likewise anathematize non-Christians (1 Corinthians 16:22).

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    Randall is correct about the Tacitus reference, though I don’t find it especially compelling evidence myself. I wouldn’t say that there’s not a single atom of evidence for the historical Jesus, though I certainly find the case doubtable.

    It says “those who do not know God” and “those who do not obey the Gospel.” In my eyes and that of my religion, this does not mean “non-Christians” – it means people who do evil and who are unrepentant.

    The only problem with this, Randall, is that the Bible and Christian doctrine have always identified improper belief as itself an act of evil deserving death. The Old Testament orders the immediate execution of anyone who believes in other gods (Deuteronomy 13:6-10). Even Jesus says that those who don’t wish to follow him should be put to death (Luke 19:27), and the epistles likewise anathematize non-Christians (1 Corinthians 16:22).

  • OMGF

    Ebon,

    Randall is correct about the Tacitus reference, though I don’t find it especially compelling evidence myself. I wouldn’t say that there’s not a single atom of evidence for the historical Jesus, though I certainly find the case doubtable.

    That’s a good summation.

    IIRC, though, I’ve had theists bring up another passage that they claim also talks of Jesus, and I wondered if Randall might be referring to that. Neither one presents anything compelling, as you note.

  • Randall

    OMGF, let me go through your points one at a time. I will use the masculine prefix from custom; I am not attributing any specific gender to God, although Jesus is naturally male.

    “God is the one who ultimately must separate herself from us, so it is god’s actions that send us to hell.”

    How is this so? God is always there, unchanging. Our actions would determine how in tune we are with God; what could God do to separate himself from us?

    Further, it is god who has set up the rules for what one must do/believe/etc. in order to not be consigned to hell.”

    Debatable, at best. God cannot deny his own nature; he cannot make good evil, or evil good. If Hell is a state of being separate from God, as I claim, then God cannot say “I decide to be this; this is what you need to do.” He can only say “This is what I am.” You cannot get to Heaven by following a set of rules; why should you enter Hell simply by breaking them? Both Heaven and Hell are states of a relationship with God; Heaven is the complete consummation of that relationship, and Hell is its complete absence.

    “Third, your own doctrine teaches that we are born with original sin, meaning that we will go to hell without god stepping in and giving us his grace. Why would god set up a system like that if he did not desire anyone to go to hell?”

    Because he wanted to give us free will. Only with free will can we fulfill our purpose, which is to love and be loved. The presence of free will means that we are free to separate ourselves from him. The natural result of this separation is Hell. The only way that God could have prevented us from sinning would be to remove our free will entirely, in which case we would be automatons; and a world of machines is hardly worth creating. Quite simply, there is nothing God could have done to prevent our sin, without violating his own nature. As already stated, this is impossible.

    “The only problem with this, Randall, is that the Bible and Christian doctrine have always identified improper belief as itself an act of evil deserving death. The Old Testament orders the immediate execution of anyone who believes in other gods (Deuteronomy 13:6-10). Even Jesus says that those who don’t wish to follow him should be put to death (Luke 19:27), and the epistles likewise anathematize non-Christians (1 Corinthians 16:22).”

    Doctrinally, this is incorrect. When I get a Catechism of the Catholic Church handy, I will quote from that to you. For now, I will focus on the Bible. One note: I do not intend to take the Bible, and particularly the Old Testament, literally; that is a hallmark of fundamentalism. With that said:

    The passage from Deuteronomy references “serving other gods” and “those who do evil.” “Serving other gods” in the time in which Deuteronomy was written, would have meant performing acts of evil. The passage is calling for the execution of criminals.
    The passage you quote from Luke is part of a parable. It is not Jesus’ direct word – although even if it were, it may not be too far off base, as seen below. The passage from Corinthians could be interpreted several ways; my Bible has it as “let those who do not follow the Lord Jesus Christ be accursed.” That’s saying, since those who don’t follow Jesus are evil people, “a curse on evil people” or more specifically, “a curse on evil.” Christian doctrine certainly condemns evil actions; but those are not necessarily dependent on religion, though they were considered to be so at the time.

    What we are talking about is social justice, not religious teaching. At the time the Bible was written, death was the punishment for many crimes, crimes which were thought to proceed from a lack of belief in God. “Execution” as referenced in the Bible is designed as punishment for crimes, punishment which was considered just at the time. It is not and has never been (in Catholic doctrine, and as far as I know in the Bible) a teaching that the mere lack of faith in God requires execution; what would require execution would be the commission of crimes that was believed, at the time, to proceed from a lack of faith.

    Does this make sense?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    “Serving other gods” in the time in which Deuteronomy was written, would have meant performing acts of evil.

    Randall, you’re going through these contorted rationalizations to explain away what is obviously the clear meaning of the verse. This verse simply says to kill anyone who worships any god other than Yahweh. It doesn’t get any clearer than that. How can you possibly mistake the meaning of something as plainly worded as this?

    If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son, or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, entices you secretly, saying, “Let us go and serve other gods,” which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the peoples that are round about you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him; but you shall kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

    This verse has nothing to do with “performing acts of evil”, except insofar as the Bible considers the worship of any other god to be an evil act deserving of immediate execution. You can see for yourself that this is what it says. This is a cruel and savage creed, and it doesn’t deserve to have you defending it.

  • lpetrich

    And this claim that God is completely static is contrary to the Bible. Genesis 6:6 tells us that God had come to regret creating humanity, and in Genesis 8:21-22 and 9:8-17, God tells us that he will never again send a big flood.

    One might be able to interpret one’s way out of the most straightforward meanings of those parts of the Bible, but that would require a lot of imagination.

  • lpetrich

    And this claim that God is completely static is contrary to the Bible. Genesis 6:6 tells us that God had come to regret creating humanity, and in Genesis 8:21-22 and 9:8-17, God tells us that he will never again send a big flood.

    One might be able to interpret one’s way out of the most straightforward meanings of those parts of the Bible, but that would require a lot of imagination.

  • Randall

    “This verse has nothing to do with “performing acts of evil”, except insofar as the Bible considers the worship of any other god to be an evil act deserving of immediate execution.”

    The verse says “serve other gods,” not “worship other gods.” Serving gods is done by committing acts of evil; those who commit acts of evil deserve to be executed, not based on their worship, but based on their deeds.

    “This is a cruel and savage creed, and it doesn’t deserve to have you defending it.”

    It certainly is. But it is drawn from the Mosaic Law; it is the legal system, more or less, of the Israelites. Not Christian teaching, and not meant to be taken as such.

  • Ben

    I believe that many tend to cherry pick the “trivial” verses that are in the Bible and choose to overlook the main ideas, thus not getting the gist of verses that are substantial.
    I am a Christian and yes I’ve had the same questions that many of you have bombarded the other Christians in this forum. The way i take it is that God has given me happiness that has kept me breathing and that has relapsed the many questions that have been raised.
    God Bless,
    Ben

  • Ben

    I believe that many tend to cherry pick the “trivial” verses that are in the Bible and choose to overlook the main ideas, thus not getting the gist of verses that are substantial.
    I am a Christian and yes I’ve had the same questions that many of you have bombarded the other Christians in this forum. The way i take it is that God has given me happiness that has kept me breathing and that has relapsed the many questions that have been raised.
    God Bless,
    Ben

  • OMGF

    Randall,

    The verse says “serve other gods,” not “worship other gods.” Serving gods is done by committing acts of evil; those who commit acts of evil deserve to be executed, not based on their worship, but based on their deeds.

    That’s quite a stretch. If another god told us to be kind to each other, then this would also fall under the banner of committing an act of evil, would it not? I disagree with you anyway. Yahweh is very specific about what he wants, and what he wants is obedience and worship. What is the first commandment? How many commandments deal with giving worship to god?

    But it is drawn from the Mosaic Law; it is the legal system, more or less, of the Israelites. Not Christian teaching, and not meant to be taken as such.

    It certainly demonstrates the morality of your god. If you claim that god has changed his mind about what is moral and what isn’t, then you’ve destroyed quite a bit of the Xian doctrine, like god being infallible, immutable, perfect, omni-benevolent, etc. You are also making an appeal to relativism. Finally, Jesus preached that one should strictly adhere to the laws of the OT.

    Ben,

    I believe that many tend to cherry pick the “trivial” verses that are in the Bible and choose to overlook the main ideas, thus not getting the gist of verses that are substantial.

    I’m sorry that you find your god calling on his people to commit murder/genocide to be “trivial.” Besides, what are the main ideas, and how did you come to those without doing some cherry picking of your own?

    The way i take it is that God has given me happiness that has kept me breathing and that has relapsed the many questions that have been raised.

    No offense, but this seems rather self-centered in that you seem to be saying that you don’t care what your god does or what his morals are so long as he keeps you happy. I may be reading into this, so I’d appreciate some clarification if that is the case.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    The verse says ‘serve other gods,’ not ‘worship other gods.’ Serving gods is done by committing acts of evil; those who commit acts of evil deserve to be executed, not based on their worship, but based on their deeds.” — Randall

    Your unspoken premise, Randall, is that all other gods are evil. Assuming their existence for the sake of this discussion, certainly some of the other gods were good and not evil, and thus serving them would not bring about the punishment cited. Furthermore, your own religion insists that good deeds are not enough to get into heaven. Yet you argue that evil deeds are enough to get you into hell.

    My second objection is your reference to free will. Free will and an omnipotent god are obviously irreconciliable.

    Furthermore, you seem to discount the fact that your god created sin, and that implicit in the concept of sin is the concept of judgement. God created hell, and Lucifer, according to your faith. Were it not for God, evil would not exist at all. Your contortions to exculpate your faith bely the reasonable tone of your writing, and reveal an agile mind bending in the wrong direction, in my eyes, and I agree with Ebon; the religion you defend is unworthy of your efforts.

    “It is not and has never been (in Catholic doctrine, and as far as I know in the Bible) a teaching that the mere lack of faith in God requires execution; what would require execution would be the commission of crimes that was believed, at the time, to proceed from a lack of faith.”

    This is patently untrue. Does the name Giordano Bruno ring a bell? Do you think the Inquisition was only about murdering witches and heretics? Apostasy was certainly a capital offense in that age, and atheism the more so. Even hinting at atheism, in one’s writings, or even with one’s scientific discoveries, was mighty dangerous. Copernicus published on his deathbed out of fear of the Church.

    Most religions perpetrate evil in the name of good. Sad to say but your faith is no different at all.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    The verse says ‘serve other gods,’ not ‘worship other gods.’ Serving gods is done by committing acts of evil; those who commit acts of evil deserve to be executed, not based on their worship, but based on their deeds.” — Randall

    Your unspoken premise, Randall, is that all other gods are evil. Assuming their existence for the sake of this discussion, certainly some of the other gods were good and not evil, and thus serving them would not bring about the punishment cited. Furthermore, your own religion insists that good deeds are not enough to get into heaven. Yet you argue that evil deeds are enough to get you into hell.

    My second objection is your reference to free will. Free will and an omnipotent god are obviously irreconciliable.

    Furthermore, you seem to discount the fact that your god created sin, and that implicit in the concept of sin is the concept of judgement. God created hell, and Lucifer, according to your faith. Were it not for God, evil would not exist at all. Your contortions to exculpate your faith bely the reasonable tone of your writing, and reveal an agile mind bending in the wrong direction, in my eyes, and I agree with Ebon; the religion you defend is unworthy of your efforts.

    “It is not and has never been (in Catholic doctrine, and as far as I know in the Bible) a teaching that the mere lack of faith in God requires execution; what would require execution would be the commission of crimes that was believed, at the time, to proceed from a lack of faith.”

    This is patently untrue. Does the name Giordano Bruno ring a bell? Do you think the Inquisition was only about murdering witches and heretics? Apostasy was certainly a capital offense in that age, and atheism the more so. Even hinting at atheism, in one’s writings, or even with one’s scientific discoveries, was mighty dangerous. Copernicus published on his deathbed out of fear of the Church.

    Most religions perpetrate evil in the name of good. Sad to say but your faith is no different at all.

  • Randall

    Ben: I agree. If you are to judge anything, let it be on the basis of its fruits and of its message. You can find flaws in anything if you look long enough.

    OMGF: I think that to respond to your posts adequately, I had better brush up on my Old Testament first. There are a couple of points I’d like to question, but it may take a while, as I am rather busy and the OT isn’t the most breezy of readings.

    Thumpalumpacus, since responding to your post doesn’t require so much research : )

    “Your unspoken premise, Randall, is that all other gods are evil. Assuming their existence for the sake of this discussion, certainly some of the other gods were good and not evil, and thus serving them would not bring about the punishment cited.

    Not my premise; the belief of the Israelites, a warlike and theistic people, that all other religions were evil. It’s no surprise that their laws would reflect this.

    “Furthermore, your own religion insists that good deeds are not enough to get into heaven. Yet you argue that evil deeds are enough to get you into hell.”

    I think we need to be careful here to avoid falling into semantics, as so many before us have on the same topic. If good deeds do not get you into heaven because they lack faith – a positive commitment to God – then evil deeds cannot get you to hell, because they lack a positive rejection of God. Hell requires not only evil deeds, but a lack of repentance; my religion teaches that God forgives the repentant, no matter what the sin. But I don’t understand how this is relevant?

    “My second objection is your reference to free will. Free will and an omnipotent god are obviously irreconciliable.”

    Depends on your definition of “omnipotent.” I don’t see a problem; define omnipotence as “the capability to enact one’s will” and say that God chose to limit himself by giving us free will. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that God is bound by the law of internal consistency, or, more simply, that God cannot defy God.

    “Furthermore, you seem to discount the fact that your god created sin, and that implicit in the concept of sin is the concept of judgement. God created hell, and Lucifer, according to your faith. Were it not for God, evil would not exist at all.”

    “Created” sin? How so? God certainly allowed sin to happen; it is a natural consequence of free will, as Hell is the natural consequence of pursuing that free will as far away from God as possible. Saying that evil would not exist because of God gives the impression that God is somehow responsible for evil, when evil can only be present where God is not. This is like saying that the day is responsible for the night; that it creates its own absence. I hope I’m making sense.

    “Your contortions to exculpate your faith bely the reasonable tone of your writing, and reveal an agile mind bending in the wrong direction, in my eyes, and I agree with Ebon; the religion you defend is unworthy of your efforts.”

    And oddly enough, I am remarkably unflexible; I failed the flexibility component of my fitness test yesterday : ) Thank you for the compliments; permit me if I disagree cheerfully and wholeheartedly that my religion is most certainly worth defending. I admit, though, that I often question whether or not the efforts of both sides would not be better spent in eradicating our real enemies – poverty, disease, hatred – instead of engaging each other in debate and rhetoric that will lead, at best, to stalemate, and at worst to ill-will.

    “This is patently untrue. Does the name Giordano Bruno ring a bell? Do you think the Inquisition was only about murdering witches and heretics? Apostasy was certainly a capital offense in that age, and atheism the more so. Even hinting at atheism, in one’s writings, or even with one’s scientific discoveries, was mighty dangerous. Copernicus published on his deathbed out of fear of the Church.”

    This is why I said “doctrine” and “the Bible.” Otherwise you are correct. My Church has been responsible for persecutions, as have all powerful organizations throughout the ages. I won’t deny that. I will certainly deny that these persecutions are consistent with the message that the Church exists to promote. A question: if one believes that witches are real, and really causing sickness and bad weather and curses, is it still a vice to kill them?

    “Most religions perpetrate evil in the name of good. Sad to say but your faith is no different at all.”

    Religions, being immaterial constructs, can’t perpetrate anything. People have done so throughout history. Whether or not this is a consequence of faith, or in direct opposition to it, is open for debate.

  • Jim Baerg

    A question: if one believes that witches are real, and really causing sickness and bad weather and curses, is it still a vice to kill them?

    I would say that the real sin of the witch hunters was the sloppy standards of evidence. Especially accepting the notion that a confession extracted under torture was evidence of anything.

    Joe McCarthy’s actions were called a ‘witch hunt’ because of somewhat lesser sloppiness in pursuit of Communists. (At least he wasn’t torturing people.) He was accusing people of treason, which is a crime, but he was doing so on insufficient evidence.

    BTW ‘sloppy standards of evidence’ is almost the definition of ‘faith’.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Randall,

    “Created” sin? How so?

    If god somehow preexisted before everything and brought it all into being, that act of creation would involve creating sin. If God never created anything, it would just be god and there would be no sin.

  • Frank Douglass

    Randall,

    I just kind of stumbled across this website and have only read a few of the posts. Pretty fascinating stuff. I am a Christian (although my personal beliefs border on universalism). Many theologians maintain the theory of “creatio ex nihilo”; which implies God did create everything from nothing… For me that means he created light and darkness; good and the capacity for evil. The Bible uses the word “sin” to mean “missing the mark” or “falling short” of the ideal. Seems to me that in order for us to have a choice, we would have to be able to choose “the good” or the “not so good”.

  • Frank Douglass

    Randall,

    I just kind of stumbled across this website and have only read a few of the posts. Pretty fascinating stuff. I am a Christian (although my personal beliefs border on universalism). Many theologians maintain the theory of “creatio ex nihilo”; which implies God did create everything from nothing… For me that means he created light and darkness; good and the capacity for evil. The Bible uses the word “sin” to mean “missing the mark” or “falling short” of the ideal. Seems to me that in order for us to have a choice, we would have to be able to choose “the good” or the “not so good”.

  • OMGF

    Randall,

    Not my premise; the belief of the Israelites, a warlike and theistic people, that all other religions were evil. It’s no surprise that their laws would reflect this.

    I would say it is highly surprising, since those laws supposedly came from god.

    Depends on your definition of “omnipotent.” I don’t see a problem; define omnipotence as “the capability to enact one’s will” and say that God chose to limit himself by giving us free will.

    I would say that free will is mutually exclusive with omniscience, and especially if that omniscience is coupled with omnipotence. If god knows all, then he knew what I would do before he created the universe. This created a deterministic track that determined that I would do all the things I did when the universe was created. If this is not so, then god did not know what I would do, and therefore god is not omniscient. Or, put another way, if I have free will, then I have the ability to choose from A or B. God already knows that I will choose A, so I either don’t have that choice, or I can actually choose B and god will be wrong.

    Saying that evil would not exist because of God gives the impression that God is somehow responsible for evil, when evil can only be present where God is not.

    So, god is not omnipresent? In fact, if your statement is true, then I would say that god is nowhere near our planet, since Xianity holds that all humans are sinful by nature. But, this is really just an exercise in passing the buck and a case of battered-wife syndrome. When something good happens, it’s because of god. When something bad happens, it’s all our fault. I’m so happy that god set up a system where we can internalize all of our failures and beat ourselves up over them while he gets to take credit for everything good. Of course, it helps if you only count the hits while ignoring the misses.

    Thank you for the compliments; permit me if I disagree cheerfully and wholeheartedly that my religion is most certainly worth defending.

    How is it worth defending? Why is it worth defending? Is it worth defending a god that treats humans that he supposedly loves like crap? Is it worth defending a system where hell exists? Is it worth defending a belief that teaches us all that we are inherently bad?

    I will certainly deny that these persecutions are consistent with the message that the Church exists to promote.

    And I would challenge you on that, especially since the message that the Church exists to promote is an ever evolving thing that changes with the evolution of human morality. During the crusades and the inquisition, it was not thought immoral to commit the atrocities exacted in the name of god. Only because humans have evolved better morals have we come to realize that these things are wrong. It isn’t because of the Church being consistent, but because the Church membership has evolved just as has the rest of society (although the Church has often fought that evolution to better morality). This is not morality inspired by god, but a misapplication of our evolved morality back onto the writings of the Bible. We’ve left the Bible behind, yet theologians have continually tried to change the meaning of the text to fit what we understand today in order to keep their faith alive, and have even gone a step farther to dishonestly assert that those evolved morals came from the Bible, instead of happening independently.

  • Jeremy

    For my part, there is nothing so pointless as a well-constructed argument from a theologian. Why expend such mountainous mental effort on unverifiable premises that are assumed to be true from the outset? Reading Randall’s matter-of-fact theistic defense of free-will raises an all-important question in my mind, one that can be best set up by quoting him:

    “How is this so? God is always there, unchanging. Our actions would determine how in tune we are with God; what could God do to separate himself from us?”

    How in the world can anyone on this planet speak so matter-of-factly about a being that for all pratical purposes is non-existent? Am I the one who’s missing something here? Randall speaks as if there is some obvious standard that can be checked. I simply cannot understand the lengths some will go to defend an unverifiable set of propositions.

    Even if Randall’s argument is logically and rationally air-tight, without a verifiable premise, does it matter?

    “God is always there, unchanging.”

    Randall, how do you know this?

    With centuries worth of writing that assumes the existence of god is self-evident, it’s no wonder that people forget the most important question of all.

    *dismounts high horse*

  • Arch

    If god somehow preexisted before everything and brought it all into being, that act of creation would involve creating sin. If God never created anything, it would just be god and there would be no sin.

    We are created with the capacity to love and to be loved, which is a greater good than being created to automatically act in a certain way. Freedom of the will allows love to be possible… and if love is possible, the opposite of love must also be posssible–this is called sin. So sin isn’t something directly created by God but is something God allows the capacity for, because without the possibility of sin there could not be love.

    How in the world can anyone on this planet speak so matter-of-factly about a being that for all pratical purposes is non-existent? Am I the one who’s missing something here? Randall speaks as if there is some obvious standard that can be checked. I simply cannot understand the lengths some will go to defend an unverifiable set of propositions.

    How is the statement, “God does not exist” verifiable?

  • Arch

    If god somehow preexisted before everything and brought it all into being, that act of creation would involve creating sin. If God never created anything, it would just be god and there would be no sin.

    We are created with the capacity to love and to be loved, which is a greater good than being created to automatically act in a certain way. Freedom of the will allows love to be possible… and if love is possible, the opposite of love must also be posssible–this is called sin. So sin isn’t something directly created by God but is something God allows the capacity for, because without the possibility of sin there could not be love.

    How in the world can anyone on this planet speak so matter-of-factly about a being that for all pratical purposes is non-existent? Am I the one who’s missing something here? Randall speaks as if there is some obvious standard that can be checked. I simply cannot understand the lengths some will go to defend an unverifiable set of propositions.

    How is the statement, “God does not exist” verifiable?

  • Ingersoll’s Revenge

    How is the statement, “God does not exist” verifiable?

    This statement must be repeated ad nauseum by apologists, and thus we have to repeat the response in the same manner:

    One cannot prove a negative statement.

    If you make a positive assertion, in this case, “God exists,” you must have the evidence to back it up. Evidence can either support your positive statement or disprove it. If you don’t provide convincing evidence, we’re justified in dismissing your claim as nonsense.

    I think you’re assuming that belief in God is the default position; it’s not. Atheism is. All babies are atheists until they “learn” about religion through their parents/guardians (Russell’s Teapot, anyone?).

    Since we’re not making a positive assertion, we don’t have to prove anything. The onus of proof is on the person making the claim, namely you. We can’t “prove” that God doesn’t exist any more than we can “prove” that leprechauns don’t exist.

  • OMGF

    Although we can’t prove that a god doesn’t exist, there are disproofs of specific gods, mostly the Xian conceptions of god. There are certain attributes given to god that are logically impossible and these can be disproven. There will always be some god, however, that can be beyond disproof.

    One of those logical disproofs involves free will (which can’t exist with an omni-max god) and the “greater good” that Arch talks about. What is the “greater good” when most people will go to hell? Also, Arch, you’re assuming that god had to create us. That’s simply not the case. By creating us, he created sin, so there must be a greater good in order for there to be a good reason to create us and sin, right? But, as mentioned already, most go to hell. Where is the greater good in that? Plus, isn’t god supposed to be the greatest good? So, how is it possible to become more good for a god that is supposed to be perfect and the greatest good?

    And, yes, sin is created by god even by creating the possibility of it.

  • Arch

    If you make a positive assertion, in this case, “God exists,” you must have the evidence to back it up. Evidence can either support your positive statement or disprove it. If you don’t provide convincing evidence, we’re justified in dismissing your claim as nonsense.

    Both a positive or negative claim need support. If I say, “Sam is in the room”, and you say, “Sam is not in the room”, it would make sense that we both have a rationale for professing belief in that statement whether it be a positive or negative statement. You cannot dismiss the need for a negative statement to have sound reasons behind it. I find it completely unconvincing that all of creation, including human beings could just come to exist, mutating from energy and matter which somehow is eternal, even though it can’t will its own existence and isn’t a rationale being.

  • Arch

    If you make a positive assertion, in this case, “God exists,” you must have the evidence to back it up. Evidence can either support your positive statement or disprove it. If you don’t provide convincing evidence, we’re justified in dismissing your claim as nonsense.

    Both a positive or negative claim need support. If I say, “Sam is in the room”, and you say, “Sam is not in the room”, it would make sense that we both have a rationale for professing belief in that statement whether it be a positive or negative statement. You cannot dismiss the need for a negative statement to have sound reasons behind it. I find it completely unconvincing that all of creation, including human beings could just come to exist, mutating from energy and matter which somehow is eternal, even though it can’t will its own existence and isn’t a rationale being.

  • OMGF

    Arch,
    Your argument from incredulity is duly noted. It’s still fallacious.

    Also, your insistence that we prove a negative is simply wrong. I say that you should prove that invisible, pink unicorns don’t exist. How about you prove that Allah doesn’t exist, or Baal, or Zeus? Have fun with that.

    Also, you are misrepresenting our side. We do not unequivocally say that god does not exist. We say that the theist side has not met its burden of proof and hence there is no need to accept their positive assertion. So, stop trying to shed your burden of proof and shirk your part of the deal. You wish to say that god exists? It is up to you to prove so, not up to us to prove that he doesn’t.

    (Of course, with the caveat that I already mentioned about how most ideas of the Xian god have been disproven as logically impossible.)

  • goyo

    So sin isn’t something directly created by God but is something God allows the capacity for, because without the possibility of sin there could not be love.

    What? If you allow the capacity for something to occur, you are responsible for it occurring.
    Do you not see the incredible lengths you are going to, to try to explain yourself?

  • goyo

    So sin isn’t something directly created by God but is something God allows the capacity for, because without the possibility of sin there could not be love.

    What? If you allow the capacity for something to occur, you are responsible for it occurring.
    Do you not see the incredible lengths you are going to, to try to explain yourself?

  • Arch

    I am attempting to enter into a scholarly conversation, but I find it interesteing that I am frequently getting accused of having poor logic and dancing around issues… but then many refuse to answer my questions and dismiss them as irrelevant to the conversation or unnecessary to answer. So I will post these one more time:

    -Why is it rational to believe that all of creation, including human beings, could just come to exist, mutating from energy and matter? How could energy or matter be eternal, considering that they cannot will their own existence and are not rational beings?

    -How can one know truth if there is no author of life? Where does truth come from, and why does this source of truth have authority?

    Peace.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Arch,

    If I say, “Sam is in the room”, and you say, “Sam is not in the room”, it would make sense that we both have a rationale for professing belief in that statement whether it be a positive or negative statement.

    I’ll humor you with a hypothetical.

    My claim
    “There is no god”

    My evidence?
    -I’ve never seen a shred of verifiable evidence that a god exists, much less the specific god you’re mentioning.
    -Since you are mentioning a specific christian god and not just some deistic original cause god, there are many things mentioned in the bible that are flat out wrong. The best evidence you have is no evidence, and many of your claims are diameterically opposed to moutain of geological, archeological, fossil, astronomical, medical, and scientific data that has been gathered over the centuries.
    -Statistics of human nature fit into a predictable pattern which is far more consistent with evolutionary theory.
    -Christianity, or any religion for that matter, have real bad track records of being right, so count that as reputation.
    -The bible itself is not internally consistent (not that it being internally consistent would make it true, but that fact that it isn’t doesn’t help the case)
    -Every other religion making the same claims as yours but the story being entirely different; you can’t all be right, but can easily be all wrong.
    -Evidence of how religions/cults grow. It’s been observed, and they turn out to look a lot like the church.

    Quick list.
    As for your side, the best evidence I’ve seen is:

    “There is a god”

    Evidence:
    -we can’t explain all natural phenomena yet, so therefore an all powerful, intelligent, creative, moral, personal god who’s son on earth was Jesus must exist and the church is infalliable when it says it is.
    -the virgin mary appeared to me in a grilled cheese sanwhich

    If you have any more evidence, I’d love to hear it.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Arch,

    If I say, “Sam is in the room”, and you say, “Sam is not in the room”, it would make sense that we both have a rationale for professing belief in that statement whether it be a positive or negative statement.

    I’ll humor you with a hypothetical.

    My claim
    “There is no god”

    My evidence?
    -I’ve never seen a shred of verifiable evidence that a god exists, much less the specific god you’re mentioning.
    -Since you are mentioning a specific christian god and not just some deistic original cause god, there are many things mentioned in the bible that are flat out wrong. The best evidence you have is no evidence, and many of your claims are diameterically opposed to moutain of geological, archeological, fossil, astronomical, medical, and scientific data that has been gathered over the centuries.
    -Statistics of human nature fit into a predictable pattern which is far more consistent with evolutionary theory.
    -Christianity, or any religion for that matter, have real bad track records of being right, so count that as reputation.
    -The bible itself is not internally consistent (not that it being internally consistent would make it true, but that fact that it isn’t doesn’t help the case)
    -Every other religion making the same claims as yours but the story being entirely different; you can’t all be right, but can easily be all wrong.
    -Evidence of how religions/cults grow. It’s been observed, and they turn out to look a lot like the church.

    Quick list.
    As for your side, the best evidence I’ve seen is:

    “There is a god”

    Evidence:
    -we can’t explain all natural phenomena yet, so therefore an all powerful, intelligent, creative, moral, personal god who’s son on earth was Jesus must exist and the church is infalliable when it says it is.
    -the virgin mary appeared to me in a grilled cheese sanwhich

    If you have any more evidence, I’d love to hear it.

  • goyo

    How can one know truth if there is no author of life? Where does truth come from, and why does this source of truth have authority?

    Here’s the definition of truth: In accordance with fact or reality.
    Now, how does that apply to the bible, which contains neither?

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Arch,

    I am attempting to enter into a scholarly conversation, but I find it interesteing that I am frequently getting accused of having poor logic and dancing around issues…

    If you wish to “enter into a scholarly conversation” then what you say will be scrutinized. If you argue using logical fallacy, it will be pointed out. When you use logical fallacies, it invalidates your arguments. There’s no need for me to argue against an argument from incredulity when I can simply point out that it is fallacious. If you don’t wish your arguments to be parsed and found wanting, then make better arguments. Additionally, if you don’t understand, you can either keep complaining or you can ask why.

    Why is it rational to believe that all of creation, including human beings, could just come to exist, mutating from energy and matter?

    It is rational to accept that the best evidence we have points us to this tentative conclusion. If evidence were to appear that overturns this, then it will be rational to follow that evidence. We know that this can and has happened from evolution as well as astronomy, chemistry, etc. etc. etc.

    How could energy or matter be eternal, considering that they cannot will their own existence and are not rational beings?

    Why is being a rational being a pre-requisite for being eternal? If matter and energy simply exist, there is no need for god to have been there. Of course, adding the god layer simply pushes back the question one step without answering any questions, while simultaneously raising new questions. How can god have come into being? Etc.

    How can one know truth if there is no author of life? Where does truth come from, and why does this source of truth have authority?

    We can know what is true by studying the real world around us. Truth comes from our understanding of the real, physical laws of the universe. There need not be a god in order for 2 and 2 to make 4 or for gravity to work.

    I don’t understand why you insist that the world need a creator, that natural laws are incapable of forming the Earth, etc. Don’t fall into the trap of the god of the gaps fallacy. It’s true that we don’t know what happened before the big bang, but that does not give you license to insert god. Our ignorance of certain things does not necessitate god.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Arch,

    I am attempting to enter into a scholarly conversation, but I find it interesteing that I am frequently getting accused of having poor logic and dancing around issues…

    If you wish to “enter into a scholarly conversation” then what you say will be scrutinized. If you argue using logical fallacy, it will be pointed out. When you use logical fallacies, it invalidates your arguments. There’s no need for me to argue against an argument from incredulity when I can simply point out that it is fallacious. If you don’t wish your arguments to be parsed and found wanting, then make better arguments. Additionally, if you don’t understand, you can either keep complaining or you can ask why.

    Why is it rational to believe that all of creation, including human beings, could just come to exist, mutating from energy and matter?

    It is rational to accept that the best evidence we have points us to this tentative conclusion. If evidence were to appear that overturns this, then it will be rational to follow that evidence. We know that this can and has happened from evolution as well as astronomy, chemistry, etc. etc. etc.

    How could energy or matter be eternal, considering that they cannot will their own existence and are not rational beings?

    Why is being a rational being a pre-requisite for being eternal? If matter and energy simply exist, there is no need for god to have been there. Of course, adding the god layer simply pushes back the question one step without answering any questions, while simultaneously raising new questions. How can god have come into being? Etc.

    How can one know truth if there is no author of life? Where does truth come from, and why does this source of truth have authority?

    We can know what is true by studying the real world around us. Truth comes from our understanding of the real, physical laws of the universe. There need not be a god in order for 2 and 2 to make 4 or for gravity to work.

    I don’t understand why you insist that the world need a creator, that natural laws are incapable of forming the Earth, etc. Don’t fall into the trap of the god of the gaps fallacy. It’s true that we don’t know what happened before the big bang, but that does not give you license to insert god. Our ignorance of certain things does not necessitate god.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    Arch, this is the second warning I’m giving you: Preaching is not allowed on this site. This is the third thread you have disrupted by asking the same irrelevant, off-topic questions. I am not going to warn you again. Knock it off.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    Arch, this is the second warning I’m giving you: Preaching is not allowed on this site. This is the third thread you have disrupted by asking the same irrelevant, off-topic questions. I am not going to warn you again. Knock it off.

  • Arch

    If asking questions is going to be labeled as preaching and legitimate questions are going to be dismissed, then I doubt that you are interested in a true conversation.
    If one is open to a respectful conversation, I am happy to engage in the dialogue.

  • Arch

    If asking questions is going to be labeled as preaching and legitimate questions are going to be dismissed, then I doubt that you are interested in a true conversation.
    If one is open to a respectful conversation, I am happy to engage in the dialogue.

  • Fred

    The sacrifice made on the cross means that God not only humbled himself to be among mankind (“man” meaning ALL PEOPLE) but He willingly underwent one of the most brutal deaths that could happen to a human.

    As for the rest of the bible, many of you are taking the bible out of context. This is understandable and done frequently by many Christians and non-Christians alike. Putting the bible into context, like any historical literary work, involves looking at what is happening at the time. Often, Christians are persecuted in the bible and are put into a situation where they have a DUTY to protect their families by fighting back. Many of the Psalms involve people rallying people to war. This does NOT mean that the bible is a violent and horrible book. Approach it with an open mind if you are so willing to make such scathing attacks against it.

    Speaking of taking the bible out of context, Genesis is NOT about God creating the Earth in 7 days. Genesis is about God establishing his covenant with man. The creation of the Earth was written in terms people understood at the time. At the time, polytheistic beliefs were rampant and the idea that one God created everything was new. This is emphasized alot throughout Genesis.

    To top it all off, there is NO WAY TO PROVE OR DISPROVE THE EXISTENCE OF GOD! You can’t use theology to trump science and you can’t use science to trump theology. Theology is based on faith. Science is based on faith in the laws of the universe as far as we understand them. The thing to keep in mind about the bible though is it is completely rational. All the so-called contradictions can be resolved by looking at their context. Once you understand this, you’ll see how beautiful the bible really is and if you don’t treat it “like a bible” then hopefully you’ll at least appreciate its literary value and you can believe whatever you want to believe in.

  • Fred

    The sacrifice made on the cross means that God not only humbled himself to be among mankind (“man” meaning ALL PEOPLE) but He willingly underwent one of the most brutal deaths that could happen to a human.

    As for the rest of the bible, many of you are taking the bible out of context. This is understandable and done frequently by many Christians and non-Christians alike. Putting the bible into context, like any historical literary work, involves looking at what is happening at the time. Often, Christians are persecuted in the bible and are put into a situation where they have a DUTY to protect their families by fighting back. Many of the Psalms involve people rallying people to war. This does NOT mean that the bible is a violent and horrible book. Approach it with an open mind if you are so willing to make such scathing attacks against it.

    Speaking of taking the bible out of context, Genesis is NOT about God creating the Earth in 7 days. Genesis is about God establishing his covenant with man. The creation of the Earth was written in terms people understood at the time. At the time, polytheistic beliefs were rampant and the idea that one God created everything was new. This is emphasized alot throughout Genesis.

    To top it all off, there is NO WAY TO PROVE OR DISPROVE THE EXISTENCE OF GOD! You can’t use theology to trump science and you can’t use science to trump theology. Theology is based on faith. Science is based on faith in the laws of the universe as far as we understand them. The thing to keep in mind about the bible though is it is completely rational. All the so-called contradictions can be resolved by looking at their context. Once you understand this, you’ll see how beautiful the bible really is and if you don’t treat it “like a bible” then hopefully you’ll at least appreciate its literary value and you can believe whatever you want to believe in.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Fred,

    The sacrifice made on the cross means that God not only humbled himself to be among mankind (“man” meaning ALL PEOPLE) but He willingly underwent one of the most brutal deaths that could happen to a human.

    Why? Why did god have to “humble” himself in order to convince himself to forgive us? Why was a sacrifice necessary? Wouldn’t you consider a human sacrifice to be barbaric?

    As for the rest of the bible, many of you are taking the bible out of context.

    For example?

    Putting the bible into context, like any historical literary work, involves looking at what is happening at the time. Many of the Psalms involve people rallying people to war. This does NOT mean that the bible is a violent and horrible book.

    Your first sentence is a pretty explicit admission that the Bible was written by men, not god. So, why should I take it as holy? The second two are not what the argument is about. The quotes provided are violent, and god is a violent creature, or do you not consider the imagery of Revelations or the actions of the flood to be violent?

    Approach it with an open mind if you are so willing to make such scathing attacks against it.

    Approaching it with an open mind is how most of us came to be atheists and see the Bible for what it is, a violent book that is not moral or good.

    Speaking of taking the bible out of context, Genesis is NOT about God creating the Earth in 7 days. Genesis is about God establishing his covenant with man. The creation of the Earth was written in terms people understood at the time.

    If it is not about creating the Earth in 7 days, then there was no need to go into detail about that and spread so much misinformation. Surely god should have known that this would be the case, yet did this anyway, correct? Also, whether men could have understood or not, that doesn’t absolve god of lying to them, which you seem to admit he did.

    To top it all off, there is NO WAY TO PROVE OR DISPROVE THE EXISTENCE OF GOD!

    Then you are in a bad spot, because the burden of proof lies upon you to do so.

    You can’t use theology to trump science and you can’t use science to trump theology.

    I agree with the first part, but not with the second. When theology makes claims that contradict science, then theology loses.

    Science is based on faith in the laws of the universe as far as we understand them.

    No, science is based on the scientific method, empirical data, verification, etc.

    The thing to keep in mind about the bible though is it is completely rational.

    It most certainly is not. The invention of god in the first place is not a rational thing, considering that you can’t provide evidence for this god that doesn’t presuppose its existence. This is called begging the question with some god of the gaps thrown in for good measure.

    All the so-called contradictions can be resolved by looking at their context.

    That’s a bold claim that is simply not true, but should be kept for another thread.

    Once you understand this, you’ll see how beautiful the bible really is and if you don’t treat it “like a bible” then hopefully you’ll at least appreciate its literary value and you can believe whatever you want to believe in.

    IOW, once I believe as you do, that the Bible is some special book that is perfectly rational, correct, and free from error or contradiction, then I’ll appreciate it. Problem is that the Bible is not any of these things. The Bible is simply a book written by men about their superstitions. It holds no more significance than any other book, except for the fact that many others hold the same superstitions.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Fred,

    The sacrifice made on the cross means that God not only humbled himself to be among mankind (“man” meaning ALL PEOPLE) but He willingly underwent one of the most brutal deaths that could happen to a human.

    Why? Why did god have to “humble” himself in order to convince himself to forgive us? Why was a sacrifice necessary? Wouldn’t you consider a human sacrifice to be barbaric?

    As for the rest of the bible, many of you are taking the bible out of context.

    For example?

    Putting the bible into context, like any historical literary work, involves looking at what is happening at the time. Many of the Psalms involve people rallying people to war. This does NOT mean that the bible is a violent and horrible book.

    Your first sentence is a pretty explicit admission that the Bible was written by men, not god. So, why should I take it as holy? The second two are not what the argument is about. The quotes provided are violent, and god is a violent creature, or do you not consider the imagery of Revelations or the actions of the flood to be violent?

    Approach it with an open mind if you are so willing to make such scathing attacks against it.

    Approaching it with an open mind is how most of us came to be atheists and see the Bible for what it is, a violent book that is not moral or good.

    Speaking of taking the bible out of context, Genesis is NOT about God creating the Earth in 7 days. Genesis is about God establishing his covenant with man. The creation of the Earth was written in terms people understood at the time.

    If it is not about creating the Earth in 7 days, then there was no need to go into detail about that and spread so much misinformation. Surely god should have known that this would be the case, yet did this anyway, correct? Also, whether men could have understood or not, that doesn’t absolve god of lying to them, which you seem to admit he did.

    To top it all off, there is NO WAY TO PROVE OR DISPROVE THE EXISTENCE OF GOD!

    Then you are in a bad spot, because the burden of proof lies upon you to do so.

    You can’t use theology to trump science and you can’t use science to trump theology.

    I agree with the first part, but not with the second. When theology makes claims that contradict science, then theology loses.

    Science is based on faith in the laws of the universe as far as we understand them.

    No, science is based on the scientific method, empirical data, verification, etc.

    The thing to keep in mind about the bible though is it is completely rational.

    It most certainly is not. The invention of god in the first place is not a rational thing, considering that you can’t provide evidence for this god that doesn’t presuppose its existence. This is called begging the question with some god of the gaps thrown in for good measure.

    All the so-called contradictions can be resolved by looking at their context.

    That’s a bold claim that is simply not true, but should be kept for another thread.

    Once you understand this, you’ll see how beautiful the bible really is and if you don’t treat it “like a bible” then hopefully you’ll at least appreciate its literary value and you can believe whatever you want to believe in.

    IOW, once I believe as you do, that the Bible is some special book that is perfectly rational, correct, and free from error or contradiction, then I’ll appreciate it. Problem is that the Bible is not any of these things. The Bible is simply a book written by men about their superstitions. It holds no more significance than any other book, except for the fact that many others hold the same superstitions.

  • Nurse Ingrid

    “The creation of the Earth was written in terms people understood at the time. At the time, polytheistic beliefs were rampant and the idea that one God created everything was new.”

    Let me just make sure I understand this correctly. The bible was written during the Bronze Age, a time at which “polytheistic beliefs were rampant.” Most people had never heard of the idea of a single, omnipotent god.

    So for thousands of years before that, your supposedly all-knowing god saw fit to let the humans believe, incorrectly, in a whole bunch of nonexistent deities? Why did he not feel the need to mention his existence before then? And why choose that particular moment in history to “come out”?

    This is a truly weird and startling claim, Fred. I thought your God was supposed to love all his children and desire a personal relationship with them. Why the thousands of years of silence?

  • Nurse Ingrid

    “The creation of the Earth was written in terms people understood at the time. At the time, polytheistic beliefs were rampant and the idea that one God created everything was new.”

    Let me just make sure I understand this correctly. The bible was written during the Bronze Age, a time at which “polytheistic beliefs were rampant.” Most people had never heard of the idea of a single, omnipotent god.

    So for thousands of years before that, your supposedly all-knowing god saw fit to let the humans believe, incorrectly, in a whole bunch of nonexistent deities? Why did he not feel the need to mention his existence before then? And why choose that particular moment in history to “come out”?

    This is a truly weird and startling claim, Fred. I thought your God was supposed to love all his children and desire a personal relationship with them. Why the thousands of years of silence?

  • Tom

    I think that the stronger reactions are, in part, due to what a person brings with them when they come to the Bible. I personally have a very positive frame of reference when I come to the Bible, and I see good things.

    Does that apply even when you’re reading passages where god advocates torture, slavery, rape and genocide? How the hell can any sane person, optimist or not, read such a thing and see anything “good”? The only thing I could bring with me when reading the bible that would result in my seeing any “good” in those parts would be outright psychosis.

  • Adele

    I am new to this, so I may be doing something horrifically wrong… but let’s give it a try, shall we:

    Randall said:
    Debatable, at best. God cannot deny his own nature; he cannot make good evil, or evil good. If Hell is a state of being separate from God, as I claim, then God cannot say “I decide to be this; this is what you need to do.” He can only say “This is what I am.”

    How is it possible that God “cannot do” anything when he is allegedly omnipotent?

  • Adele

    I am new to this, so I may be doing something horrifically wrong… but let’s give it a try, shall we:

    Randall said:
    Debatable, at best. God cannot deny his own nature; he cannot make good evil, or evil good. If Hell is a state of being separate from God, as I claim, then God cannot say “I decide to be this; this is what you need to do.” He can only say “This is what I am.”

    How is it possible that God “cannot do” anything when he is allegedly omnipotent?

  • karatemack

    @Adele:

    The omnipotence you are attempting to create could never exist. Any creature claiming omnipotence would have to answer the generic, “Can you create a stone you cannot lift?” The answer if yes, creates a situation where the omnipotent being could not ‘do’ something. If no, this exposes something the omnipotent being cannot ‘do’. If there is an ALL-anything being, the one category of thing they could not ‘do’ is be themselves.

    Because of this there are many things that God CANNOT do.(IE: God cannot sin, God cannot fail, God MUST be just, etc.) To view this as some limitation of His power seems a little illogical to me. If anything, the statements about what God cannot do point us in the direction of the incomprehendable heights of God’s power.

    Let me give you an example. If I walk into a casino and start winning at some point in the night I might say, “I can’t lose!”. Would you view this as me attempting to point to a limitation within myself? Or would you view this as me attempting to explain the invulnerability to losing I am currently experiencing?

    I remember playing Magic the GatheringTM growing up. One of my favorite decks involved a strategy using circle of protections(COPs). If you played this card correctly you became invulnerable to a certain ‘color’ of damage. (sorry for the reference if you’ve never played this game yourself… it won’t make sense) When I activated this card and enjoyed the benefits of being immune to damage, I suppose someone could say I lacked the ability to be damaged by red. (if it was a COP red) However, if you had asked me about my current invunlerability I would have undoubtedly let you know that it signified an advantage that I possesed, not something which limited my ability.

    So, if omnipotence is the ability to do anything at all… then I guess omnipotent beings can’t exist. However, if omnipotence is the ability to do anything your nature (omnipotent, omnipresent, “omnimax” I guess) compels you to do, then you can very much believe in omnipotent beings.

  • karatemack

    @Adele:

    The omnipotence you are attempting to create could never exist. Any creature claiming omnipotence would have to answer the generic, “Can you create a stone you cannot lift?” The answer if yes, creates a situation where the omnipotent being could not ‘do’ something. If no, this exposes something the omnipotent being cannot ‘do’. If there is an ALL-anything being, the one category of thing they could not ‘do’ is be themselves.

    Because of this there are many things that God CANNOT do.(IE: God cannot sin, God cannot fail, God MUST be just, etc.) To view this as some limitation of His power seems a little illogical to me. If anything, the statements about what God cannot do point us in the direction of the incomprehendable heights of God’s power.

    Let me give you an example. If I walk into a casino and start winning at some point in the night I might say, “I can’t lose!”. Would you view this as me attempting to point to a limitation within myself? Or would you view this as me attempting to explain the invulnerability to losing I am currently experiencing?

    I remember playing Magic the GatheringTM growing up. One of my favorite decks involved a strategy using circle of protections(COPs). If you played this card correctly you became invulnerable to a certain ‘color’ of damage. (sorry for the reference if you’ve never played this game yourself… it won’t make sense) When I activated this card and enjoyed the benefits of being immune to damage, I suppose someone could say I lacked the ability to be damaged by red. (if it was a COP red) However, if you had asked me about my current invunlerability I would have undoubtedly let you know that it signified an advantage that I possesed, not something which limited my ability.

    So, if omnipotence is the ability to do anything at all… then I guess omnipotent beings can’t exist. However, if omnipotence is the ability to do anything your nature (omnipotent, omnipresent, “omnimax” I guess) compels you to do, then you can very much believe in omnipotent beings.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    OK, then god is either impossible or god is a robot that is slave to his “nature.”

  • karatemack

    To OMGF:

    Sure… God is a slave to being God. He will always be God and will never be imperfect in any way. What a horrid horrid concept.

  • karatemack

    To OMGF:

    Sure… God is a slave to being God. He will always be God and will never be imperfect in any way. What a horrid horrid concept.

  • Adele

    @karatemack -

    Of course… you are right about that, thanks for clarifying. My apologies for cluttering up this particular thread with stupid comments like that…

    The thing is, though, as Richard Dawkins pointed out in his masterpiece The God Delusion, omnipotence and omniscience are – I think the phrase is, mutually exclusive? (Feel free to correct me in this, it might be another stupid comment.) There is a rather clever verse explaining the paradox presented by omnipotence/omniscience:

    Can omniscient god, who
    knows the future, find
    the omnipotence to
    change his future mind?

    Furthermore, allegedly omniscient God regrets his actions several times, according to the Bible. Care to explain how a God who knows everything, including the future, makes mistakes? (Adam has an essay at Ebon Musings that deals with this problem.)

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    karatemack,
    The type of slavery that you speak of reduces god to an entity that really doesn’t have free will.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    karatemack,
    The type of slavery that you speak of reduces god to an entity that really doesn’t have free will.

  • heliobates

    @karatemack

    Because of this there are many things that God CANNOT do.(IE: God cannot sin, God cannot fail, God MUST be just, etc.) To view this as some limitation of His power seems a little illogical to me. If anything, the statements about what God cannot do point us in the direction of the incomprehendable heights of God’s power.

    Uh, let me get this straight. You’re setting forth characteristics of a being that we cannot test, detect or otherwise observe and apparently cannot even comprehend. How does you know if you’re right and not just making shit up and why should anyone accept what you propose as valid? You are writing these things as if they’re established, demonstrable fact.

    I think you should be a bit more explicit in step 2.

  • heliobates

    @karatemack

    Because of this there are many things that God CANNOT do.(IE: God cannot sin, God cannot fail, God MUST be just, etc.) To view this as some limitation of His power seems a little illogical to me. If anything, the statements about what God cannot do point us in the direction of the incomprehendable heights of God’s power.

    Uh, let me get this straight. You’re setting forth characteristics of a being that we cannot test, detect or otherwise observe and apparently cannot even comprehend. How does you know if you’re right and not just making shit up and why should anyone accept what you propose as valid? You are writing these things as if they’re established, demonstrable fact.

    I think you should be a bit more explicit in step 2.

  • heliobates

    @Fred

    Genesis is about God establishing his covenant with man. The creation of the Earth was written in terms people understood at the time.

    How do you know that the “covenant with man” wasn’t written in terms people understood at the time and is therefore just as inaccurate as the creation myth itself?

    I’m not asking what you believe. I’m asking how do you know?

  • karatemack

    @Adele:

    Again you are creating a situation which cannot exist. God’s foreknowledge is a part of His Will. When the Bible describes God “changing His mind” or “remembering”, etc. there are two possibilities.

    1. It is an anthropomorphic expression to help us try to understand what God is doing.

    2. Having an ability and using an ability are completely different. I might have the ability to type, but I am not constantly typing. When I am not typing does that mean I can no longer type, or simply that I am not exercising my ability? If omniscience is the ability to know everything, God doesn’t necessarily have to exercise this ability to still maintain this ability.

    @OMGF:

    “The type of slavery that you speak of reduces god to an entity that really doesn’t have free will.”

    If you mean ‘free will’ to be the ability to do anything good or evil, then no God does not have free will. Again He would be a slave to only doing good… again not a bad characteristic. But then I don’t think humans have ‘free will’. We can operate within our evil nature and sin, or we can accept God’s gift and operate under the new nature He creates within us. Either way we are a slave to one nature or the other.

    @Heliobates:

    Good job being vague enough to criticize and yet specific enough to ruin your own credibility.

  • karatemack

    @Adele:

    Again you are creating a situation which cannot exist. God’s foreknowledge is a part of His Will. When the Bible describes God “changing His mind” or “remembering”, etc. there are two possibilities.

    1. It is an anthropomorphic expression to help us try to understand what God is doing.

    2. Having an ability and using an ability are completely different. I might have the ability to type, but I am not constantly typing. When I am not typing does that mean I can no longer type, or simply that I am not exercising my ability? If omniscience is the ability to know everything, God doesn’t necessarily have to exercise this ability to still maintain this ability.

    @OMGF:

    “The type of slavery that you speak of reduces god to an entity that really doesn’t have free will.”

    If you mean ‘free will’ to be the ability to do anything good or evil, then no God does not have free will. Again He would be a slave to only doing good… again not a bad characteristic. But then I don’t think humans have ‘free will’. We can operate within our evil nature and sin, or we can accept God’s gift and operate under the new nature He creates within us. Either way we are a slave to one nature or the other.

    @Heliobates:

    Good job being vague enough to criticize and yet specific enough to ruin your own credibility.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    karatemack,
    Just so I understand…

    You’re claiming that god can only act in certain ways and thus he has no free will. He can only do the right thing in all situations, so his course is determined by that. We similarly don’t have free will because we will always choose what is evil or be saved by god and always choose what is good? Is that your position?

  • heliobates

    @ karatemack

    So I’m the one who’s simultaneously claiming that the properties of an unobservable, undetectable and possibly incomprehensible being can nevertheless be argued solely on the basis of repeated assertion?

    Try showing your work for a single proposition you’ve put forth in this comment thread.

    Here’s a lovely example:

    But then I don’t think humans have ‘free will’. We can operate within our evil nature and sin, or we can accept God’s gift and operate under the new nature He creates within us. Either way we are a slave to one nature or the other

    You think something is true. Oh, it couldn’t possibly be question begging, then. I beg your pardon.

    I got your “credibility” rayt cheer!

  • karatemack

    To OMGF:

    “You’re claiming that god can only act in certain ways and thus he has no free will. He can only do the right thing in all situations, so his course is determined by that. We similarly don’t have free will because we will always choose what is evil or be saved by god and always choose what is good? Is that your position?”

    In a way yes, you’re spot on, and in a way no. I’m not saying that God doesn’t have options for how to accomplish the things He sets out to. I’m not saying we can predict God’s every action or put Him into a box. But I am saying He is dependable. He doesn’t change. We can count on Him to accomplish what He has said. If God had the ability to fail, then perhaps He would. I don’t think God can ever fail. I believe He lacks to ability to be imperfect. So yes, in this way God’s actions are determined by Who He is. I don’t see how this takes away from His character.

    To Heliobates:

    “So I’m the one who’s simultaneously claiming that the properties of an unobservable, undetectable and possibly incomprehensible being can nevertheless be argued solely on the basis of repeated assertion?”

    The claim is that all these thought processes are irrational and unprovable. My comments meant to deal with the first dilemma. Sorry you didn’t catch that.

  • karatemack

    To OMGF:

    “You’re claiming that god can only act in certain ways and thus he has no free will. He can only do the right thing in all situations, so his course is determined by that. We similarly don’t have free will because we will always choose what is evil or be saved by god and always choose what is good? Is that your position?”

    In a way yes, you’re spot on, and in a way no. I’m not saying that God doesn’t have options for how to accomplish the things He sets out to. I’m not saying we can predict God’s every action or put Him into a box. But I am saying He is dependable. He doesn’t change. We can count on Him to accomplish what He has said. If God had the ability to fail, then perhaps He would. I don’t think God can ever fail. I believe He lacks to ability to be imperfect. So yes, in this way God’s actions are determined by Who He is. I don’t see how this takes away from His character.

    To Heliobates:

    “So I’m the one who’s simultaneously claiming that the properties of an unobservable, undetectable and possibly incomprehensible being can nevertheless be argued solely on the basis of repeated assertion?”

    The claim is that all these thought processes are irrational and unprovable. My comments meant to deal with the first dilemma. Sorry you didn’t catch that.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    karatemack,

    In a way yes, you’re spot on, and in a way no. I’m not saying that God doesn’t have options for how to accomplish the things He sets out to.

    How could god have options? According to you, god must choose the most perfect thing to do, therefore, he has no options. He is an automaton that only chooses the best way for anything according to you. god would not have free will, since he is forced to do that which is perfect. This is actually probably the most logical stance that you can take in regards to god, but it is still a stunning admission, because you’ve thrown out the argument from evil. All you have left is to argue that evil committed by god is somehow the best thing god can do and perfect. I think we know how that argument will go.

    I don’t see how this takes away from His character.

    It surely does. Wouldn’t you rather have free will than not? And, let’s explore the consequences of this, shall we? All people that end up in hell are placed there by god in his perfection? Hmmm, that’s a hard pill to swallow, and that’s just the start of it.

    The claim is that all these thought processes are irrational and unprovable.

    Theism is irrational. As for unprovable, I’m not sure, but certainly no one has proven anything to do with the supernatural yet.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    karatemack,

    In a way yes, you’re spot on, and in a way no. I’m not saying that God doesn’t have options for how to accomplish the things He sets out to.

    How could god have options? According to you, god must choose the most perfect thing to do, therefore, he has no options. He is an automaton that only chooses the best way for anything according to you. god would not have free will, since he is forced to do that which is perfect. This is actually probably the most logical stance that you can take in regards to god, but it is still a stunning admission, because you’ve thrown out the argument from evil. All you have left is to argue that evil committed by god is somehow the best thing god can do and perfect. I think we know how that argument will go.

    I don’t see how this takes away from His character.

    It surely does. Wouldn’t you rather have free will than not? And, let’s explore the consequences of this, shall we? All people that end up in hell are placed there by god in his perfection? Hmmm, that’s a hard pill to swallow, and that’s just the start of it.

    The claim is that all these thought processes are irrational and unprovable.

    Theism is irrational. As for unprovable, I’m not sure, but certainly no one has proven anything to do with the supernatural yet.

  • heliobates

    The claim is that all these thought processes are irrational and unprovable.

    You still haven’t explained how you know the truth of any proposition about God.

    I was asking you to do something other than argue by repeated assertion.

    From an earlier response to adele:

    The omnipotence you are attempting to create could never exist. Any creature claiming omnipotence would have to answer the generic, “Can you create a stone you cannot lift?” The answer if yes, creates a situation where the omnipotent being could not ‘do’ something. If no, this exposes something the omnipotent being cannot ‘do’. If there is an ALL-anything being, the one category of thing they could not ‘do’ is be themselves.

    How do you know, without presuming your definition of “omnipotent” is operable and demonstrated? I’m calling out your question-begging rhetoric. Sorry you didn’t catch that.

  • karatemack

    To OMGF:

    “How could god have options?”

    If it would be good for me to eat healthy I have many different choices of food from which I could choose. Each of them equally healthy. Each of them with a unique benefit. None of them would be a ‘bad’ choice. I could choose from many equal goods to accomplish the good thing I wanted to do.

    “Wouldn’t you rather have free will than not?”

    From your question I’m assuming you would. Good news: God has given you a choice. Bad news: Choices carry with them a responsibility to do what’s right. Worse news: Poor choices lead to consequences.

    When a judge sentences a murderer to death… who has committed the sin? The judge? Or the murderer? Are we attempting to victimize the criminal here? Of course not. Because God didn’t have to give people free choice, right? But that’s what you would prefer? So if God didn’t give you free choice then He wouldn’t be fair? But when He is fair and allows you to choose and you mess up it is still His fault? I really don’t follow you on this one.

    To Heliobates:

    “How do you know, without presuming your definition of “omnipotent” is operable and demonstrated?”

    Sorry, since Adele’s question seemed to ask how the Biblical definition of God’s character could make sense. I explained how these characteristics could fit together logically. You don’t have to accept my definitions of these words. But regardless of whether or not you do, I have still demonstrated that these words (interpreted properly) fit together very well to describe God in a logical way. The way I interpret these words in a way which they fit together well shows that I am correctly interpreting them as the original author’s of the Bible meant to teach us about God’s character. It wouldn’t make sense for them to convey ideas which were contrary to one another or entirely impossible (logically). I doubt they were stupid men (of course you may think they were).

    I have a challenge for you (since you are obviously so much more intelligent than the men who wrote the Bible). Adapt any ancient story about a god, make it relevent to today, and then through your own humble lifestyle cause a new religion to form which sweeps the globe and maintains dominance for 2000 plus years. Of course, since you are more intelligent than the writers of the Bible (who obviously left glaring errors behind) this should be a simple task for you… after all Christians are just brain-washed stupid people… they shouldn’t be too difficult to convert to a religion which actually has a logical foundation. Good luck with that.

  • karatemack

    To OMGF:

    “How could god have options?”

    If it would be good for me to eat healthy I have many different choices of food from which I could choose. Each of them equally healthy. Each of them with a unique benefit. None of them would be a ‘bad’ choice. I could choose from many equal goods to accomplish the good thing I wanted to do.

    “Wouldn’t you rather have free will than not?”

    From your question I’m assuming you would. Good news: God has given you a choice. Bad news: Choices carry with them a responsibility to do what’s right. Worse news: Poor choices lead to consequences.

    When a judge sentences a murderer to death… who has committed the sin? The judge? Or the murderer? Are we attempting to victimize the criminal here? Of course not. Because God didn’t have to give people free choice, right? But that’s what you would prefer? So if God didn’t give you free choice then He wouldn’t be fair? But when He is fair and allows you to choose and you mess up it is still His fault? I really don’t follow you on this one.

    To Heliobates:

    “How do you know, without presuming your definition of “omnipotent” is operable and demonstrated?”

    Sorry, since Adele’s question seemed to ask how the Biblical definition of God’s character could make sense. I explained how these characteristics could fit together logically. You don’t have to accept my definitions of these words. But regardless of whether or not you do, I have still demonstrated that these words (interpreted properly) fit together very well to describe God in a logical way. The way I interpret these words in a way which they fit together well shows that I am correctly interpreting them as the original author’s of the Bible meant to teach us about God’s character. It wouldn’t make sense for them to convey ideas which were contrary to one another or entirely impossible (logically). I doubt they were stupid men (of course you may think they were).

    I have a challenge for you (since you are obviously so much more intelligent than the men who wrote the Bible). Adapt any ancient story about a god, make it relevent to today, and then through your own humble lifestyle cause a new religion to form which sweeps the globe and maintains dominance for 2000 plus years. Of course, since you are more intelligent than the writers of the Bible (who obviously left glaring errors behind) this should be a simple task for you… after all Christians are just brain-washed stupid people… they shouldn’t be too difficult to convert to a religion which actually has a logical foundation. Good luck with that.

  • heliobates

    karatemack: Maybe I should have backed up even farther: do you even understand what “question begging” means, because you seem to have earned a 2nd dan in it?

    I explained how these characteristics could fit together logically.

    That wasn’t what I asked you. Yes, you did explain how things could “fit together logically”. What you can’t seem to do is explain how or why your logic is correct. For the third time, how do you ascertain that your truth claims about the characteristics of an unobservable and possibly incomprehensible being are correct?

    You’ve said, essentially: “No, that’s not what ‘omnipotence’ means! Obviously that’s incoherent. You should understand ‘omnipotence’ in this special meaning of the word.”

    Do I have to explain how that completely fails to persuade?

    I have a challenge for you (since you are obviously so much more intelligent than the men who wrote the Bible)…

    Interesting that you chose to counter-attack me personally instead of defending your argument. What’s that do to your credibility?

    Adapt any ancient story about a god, make it relevent to today, and then through your own humble lifestyle cause a new religion to form which sweeps the globe and maintains dominance for 2000 plus years. Of course, since you are more intelligent than the writers of the Bible (who obviously left glaring errors behind) this should be a simple task for you… after all Christians are just brain-washed stupid people… they shouldn’t be too difficult to convert to a religion which actually has a logical foundation. Good luck with that.

    It’s like an “all-you-can-commit” logical fallacy buffet. I can’t see how you could fit more on your plate with all those straw men, but you managed to get a bit of everything in there.

    I haven’t cast any aspersions on your sanity or your intelligence, only your ability to argue a coherent point. For the last time, I’m not claiming to be able to coherently discuss the characteristics of an unobservable and (by your own words) incomprehensible supernatural being. You are. And when you do, I only want to know how you can determine that your understanding of the characteristics of an unobservable and (by your own words) incomprehensible supernatural being is the correct one.

    So much for karatemack’s “historical-grammatical exegetical hermeneutic”. Look on his works, ye mighty, and despair.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    karatemack,

    If it would be good for me to eat healthy I have many different choices of food from which I could choose.

    But, there is only one perfect choice. god can not merely choose what is good – he must choose what is perfect, which is only one choice. Do you really not understand this concept?

    From your question I’m assuming you would. Good news: God has given you a choice. Bad news: Choices carry with them a responsibility to do what’s right. Worse news: Poor choices lead to consequences.

    Good for you. Way to try and turn it around into a proselytizing session and argument about what I believe instead of defending your own beliefs. The problems that I’ve pointed out are still there. You can’t use free will to defend the problem of evil. Since that is the only defense that has any traction (which isn’t saying much) you have no defense against the problem of evil.

    The way I interpret these words in a way which they fit together well shows that I am correctly interpreting them as the original author’s of the Bible meant to teach us about God’s character.

    It demonstrates nothing of the sort. Good try though.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    karatemack,

    If it would be good for me to eat healthy I have many different choices of food from which I could choose.

    But, there is only one perfect choice. god can not merely choose what is good – he must choose what is perfect, which is only one choice. Do you really not understand this concept?

    From your question I’m assuming you would. Good news: God has given you a choice. Bad news: Choices carry with them a responsibility to do what’s right. Worse news: Poor choices lead to consequences.

    Good for you. Way to try and turn it around into a proselytizing session and argument about what I believe instead of defending your own beliefs. The problems that I’ve pointed out are still there. You can’t use free will to defend the problem of evil. Since that is the only defense that has any traction (which isn’t saying much) you have no defense against the problem of evil.

    The way I interpret these words in a way which they fit together well shows that I am correctly interpreting them as the original author’s of the Bible meant to teach us about God’s character.

    It demonstrates nothing of the sort. Good try though.

  • karatemack

    To OMGF and Heliobates:

    Sorry I didn’t point out that I saw through your subtle attempts to shift the point of the conversation once I had made a point. Any attempt to argue from a Historical-Grammatical-Rhetorical point of view is smashed down in favor of suppossed contrary evidence which none of you ever seem to be able to produce. This entire site is dedicated to straw men. Every point raised against Christianity, every blog typed does nothing but point out the heresies which the Church itself has chosen to distance itself from. It’s like someone saying evolution is fake because it states a giraffe mated with a blue whale which formed a human. Of course evolution would seem silly… but then you haven’t criticized evolution but only your made up form of it. You are good at topic evasion though. And you are very good at ignoring points which are made against your ‘logic’. If you really ‘search’ you will find… but I don’t think you are searching for truth… in fact you seem to have quite cornered the market on it. Well done.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Sorry I didn’t point out that I saw through your subtle attempts to shift the point of the conversation once I had made a point.

    What point is it you made that we shifted away from? You claimed that god was a slave to his nature, and I answered that.

    Any attempt to argue from a Historical-Grammatical-Rhetorical point of view is smashed down in favor of suppossed contrary evidence which none of you ever seem to be able to produce.

    What contrary evidence do I need to produce to point out what your argument entails? Also, what evidence does Helio need to point out to show that you haven’t provided any evidence for your assertions?

    This entire site is dedicated to straw men.

    Do you even know the meaning of the words you are using? How can it be a straw man for me to ask you explicitly what your position is and then to argue it to its logical conclusion?

    Every point raised against Christianity, every blog typed does nothing but point out the heresies which the Church itself has chosen to distance itself from.

    For instance? Which churches are you referring to?

    It’s like someone saying evolution is fake because it states a giraffe mated with a blue whale which formed a human.

    Only if your assertion about our alleged straw men is correct, which it is not.

    You are good at topic evasion though.

    Ironic from someone who has evaded everything that I last said and everything Helio has said in this entire thread.

    And you are very good at ignoring points which are made against your ‘logic’.

    Make some points and then maybe you can see if I ignore them. Considering that I’ve been answering your comments line for line almost, this complaint rings very hollow.

    If you really ‘search’ you will find… but I don’t think you are searching for truth… in fact you seem to have quite cornered the market on it.

    It is searching for truth that led most of us to become atheists in the first place, but hey, keep proselytizing and complaining.

  • karatemack

    To OMGF:

    Well… if you really feel I haven’t answered a single question about God with logic (how it could be possible to be omniscient and omnipotent) then I guess I’m just not up to the task then.

    I haven’t responded directly to some of the ‘questions’ from Heliobates as I see them as diversions from the current topic. In other places on this site people (not myself) have offered evidences contrary to the view proposed and have been shot down with quotations of suppossed evidence which never seems to surface when asked for (SEE: On Expertise). I didn’t want to get (again) into the endless he said/she said debate of history or the Bible. The arguments against God seem to all be based upon logic, not evidence. Therefore I thought it was appropriate to dispute the argument against God using only logic. Ultimately this always leads to the question of “what proof” do you have for God. This is quite off topic as the original complaint against religion (in this thread) had nothing to do with “proof for God” but rather “reasoning against God”.

    “But, there is only one perfect choice. god can not merely choose what is good – he must choose what is perfect, which is only one choice. Do you really not understand this concept?”

    Why can’t there be two perfects? I guess I don’t fully grasp what you’re getting at. Or if I do perhaps I disagree with your presupposition.

    “Since that is the only defense that has any traction (which isn’t saying much) you have no defense against the problem of evil.”

    What other defenses without traction have you ruled out? Why have you ruled them out? Or is it OK for you to exclude all possible explanations without giving reasons why?

    “It demonstrates nothing of the sort. Good try though.”

    If: 1. The original author of a work intended for it to convey truth which does not contradict. AND: 2. Some perfectly logical explanations of a text cause it to contradict itself. AND: 3. Some perfectly logical explanations of a text cause it to agree with perfect harmony. Then: Why is the work guilty until proven innocent? Why is it considered that the ‘translation’ which makes the text contradictory must be accepted? It seems like we’re left with the option of contradictions existing in the Bible, or we can embrace the explanation which logically explains the text. Since the author’s of the Bible were writing things they wanted to be taken as ‘from God’, it seems that they would have taken some efforts to make sure it all ‘made sense’. Also the scribes and practioners of the religion would have had to of turned a blind eye to some glaring errors if we accept the contradictive translation as best. Why then, knowing the author’s of scripture had to have been intelligent and that they wanted their work to be seen as “from God”, can we not assume that a translation which explains the perfect agreement of scripture is not best?

    “For the third time, how do you ascertain that your truth claims about the characteristics of an unobservable and possibly incomprehensible being are correct?”

    You know my beliefs are based upon what the Bible says. This begs the question, “How do you know the Bible is correct?” AND “How do you know you are translating it properly?”. The subtle presupposition behind all these questions is that there is no way to be sure. That is akin to asking the scholar how he knows he understands the meaning of poetry written long ago. Walk into a university and dispute the meaning of the Enuma Elish, I would be interested to hear that conversation.

    Ultimately, I see this as a stall technique to lead me from one question to the next into a never ending rabbit hole of skepticism. I’m reminded of the famous politician who said, “That depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” The real question is not whether or not God exists, the question being addressed was whether or not the idea of omnipotence (and omniscience) rules out the possibility of God’s existence.

    Prove love exists. Don’t tell me of your sappy experiences you’ve had with ‘love’. I have never experienced it and think the idea of it is absurd. Is there an answer? Do you believe in love?

    Christianity is criticized for it’s lack of proof for God (original cause). And yet science does not now (nor can it ever) identify the original cause of life. God or science there will always be an endless stream of questions which can never fully be answered.

    “And when you do, I only want to know how you can determine that your understanding of the characteristics of an unobservable and (by your own words) incomprehensible supernatural being is the correct one.”

    A two year old can understand a stove is hot. They understand something about a stove. Does this mean they fully comprehend the function and purpose of the stove? Do they understand the stove fully, or do they possess a simple surface knowledge of the stove? In this way it is possible to understand certain aspects of an incomprehensible Being. I’m not saying I fully understand everything about God. I don’t think we can. But there are certain aspects about Himself He has chosen to reveal to us.

    That said… it’s not my goal to make you all angry with me. Like a moth to a flame I find myself oddly drawn to continue reading the posts on this site. I honestly want to understand where you’re coming from but can’t seem to get my mind quite around the logic you’re using. I’ll read your responses but for the sake of your patience I’ll stop responding to this topic here.

  • karatemack

    To OMGF:

    Well… if you really feel I haven’t answered a single question about God with logic (how it could be possible to be omniscient and omnipotent) then I guess I’m just not up to the task then.

    I haven’t responded directly to some of the ‘questions’ from Heliobates as I see them as diversions from the current topic. In other places on this site people (not myself) have offered evidences contrary to the view proposed and have been shot down with quotations of suppossed evidence which never seems to surface when asked for (SEE: On Expertise). I didn’t want to get (again) into the endless he said/she said debate of history or the Bible. The arguments against God seem to all be based upon logic, not evidence. Therefore I thought it was appropriate to dispute the argument against God using only logic. Ultimately this always leads to the question of “what proof” do you have for God. This is quite off topic as the original complaint against religion (in this thread) had nothing to do with “proof for God” but rather “reasoning against God”.

    “But, there is only one perfect choice. god can not merely choose what is good – he must choose what is perfect, which is only one choice. Do you really not understand this concept?”

    Why can’t there be two perfects? I guess I don’t fully grasp what you’re getting at. Or if I do perhaps I disagree with your presupposition.

    “Since that is the only defense that has any traction (which isn’t saying much) you have no defense against the problem of evil.”

    What other defenses without traction have you ruled out? Why have you ruled them out? Or is it OK for you to exclude all possible explanations without giving reasons why?

    “It demonstrates nothing of the sort. Good try though.”

    If: 1. The original author of a work intended for it to convey truth which does not contradict. AND: 2. Some perfectly logical explanations of a text cause it to contradict itself. AND: 3. Some perfectly logical explanations of a text cause it to agree with perfect harmony. Then: Why is the work guilty until proven innocent? Why is it considered that the ‘translation’ which makes the text contradictory must be accepted? It seems like we’re left with the option of contradictions existing in the Bible, or we can embrace the explanation which logically explains the text. Since the author’s of the Bible were writing things they wanted to be taken as ‘from God’, it seems that they would have taken some efforts to make sure it all ‘made sense’. Also the scribes and practioners of the religion would have had to of turned a blind eye to some glaring errors if we accept the contradictive translation as best. Why then, knowing the author’s of scripture had to have been intelligent and that they wanted their work to be seen as “from God”, can we not assume that a translation which explains the perfect agreement of scripture is not best?

    “For the third time, how do you ascertain that your truth claims about the characteristics of an unobservable and possibly incomprehensible being are correct?”

    You know my beliefs are based upon what the Bible says. This begs the question, “How do you know the Bible is correct?” AND “How do you know you are translating it properly?”. The subtle presupposition behind all these questions is that there is no way to be sure. That is akin to asking the scholar how he knows he understands the meaning of poetry written long ago. Walk into a university and dispute the meaning of the Enuma Elish, I would be interested to hear that conversation.

    Ultimately, I see this as a stall technique to lead me from one question to the next into a never ending rabbit hole of skepticism. I’m reminded of the famous politician who said, “That depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” The real question is not whether or not God exists, the question being addressed was whether or not the idea of omnipotence (and omniscience) rules out the possibility of God’s existence.

    Prove love exists. Don’t tell me of your sappy experiences you’ve had with ‘love’. I have never experienced it and think the idea of it is absurd. Is there an answer? Do you believe in love?

    Christianity is criticized for it’s lack of proof for God (original cause). And yet science does not now (nor can it ever) identify the original cause of life. God or science there will always be an endless stream of questions which can never fully be answered.

    “And when you do, I only want to know how you can determine that your understanding of the characteristics of an unobservable and (by your own words) incomprehensible supernatural being is the correct one.”

    A two year old can understand a stove is hot. They understand something about a stove. Does this mean they fully comprehend the function and purpose of the stove? Do they understand the stove fully, or do they possess a simple surface knowledge of the stove? In this way it is possible to understand certain aspects of an incomprehensible Being. I’m not saying I fully understand everything about God. I don’t think we can. But there are certain aspects about Himself He has chosen to reveal to us.

    That said… it’s not my goal to make you all angry with me. Like a moth to a flame I find myself oddly drawn to continue reading the posts on this site. I honestly want to understand where you’re coming from but can’t seem to get my mind quite around the logic you’re using. I’ll read your responses but for the sake of your patience I’ll stop responding to this topic here.

  • Brad

    I’m going to butt-in here; I couldn’t resist commenting on this challenge:

    I have a challenge for you (since you are obviously so much more intelligent than the men who wrote the Bible).

    Although you and I are likely more intelligent than any ancient Hebrew, so are most people today. In these times we have greater knowledge, as well as much more inter-connectivity and harder-to-control masses. It might have been easier to start a religion in those ancient times, when there was ignorance and desperation and little to stop you if you played your cards right. Today, it would be much harder because people would catch on easier, the government would try to stop you from gaining too much control, et cetera. (Although Hubbard’s Scientology has a small chance of giving me a run for my money.)

    Adapt any ancient story about a god, make it relevent to today, and then through your own humble lifestyle cause a new religion to form which sweeps the globe and maintains dominance for 2000 plus years. Of course, since you are more intelligent than the writers of the Bible (who obviously left glaring errors behind) this should be a simple task for you…

    To do such a thing, I would have to gain religious authority or credibility among many people. Like I said, this would have been easier in the past. I may be intelligent, but the bar is set incredibly high in modern times. Also, if Abrahamic religion is just the one pagan religion that won the lottery out of so many of them, then it is unfair to ask me to achieve what the Hebrews did by luck (or sheer military power) with just my own foresighted design. Most of the self-perpetuating aspect of religion comes not necessarily from the foresight of its founders, but rather the willpower of its followers to keep it intact. (Like colonizing other nations and forcing them to accept your religion.)

    Plus, I think I should add, sheer passage of time does not make any dogma, tradition, or institution more legitimate or probable. Such an idea is a self-fulfilling illusion. (Otherwise Hinduism actually has more validity for its being old.) In addition to this, Christianity has not really “swept the globe,” but rather, has been itself swept along by people. It has the largest number of adherents, but it does not constitute a majority.

    … after all Christians are just brain-washed stupid people… they shouldn’t be too difficult to convert to a religion which actually has a logical foundation. Good luck with that.

    In general, Christians are no more stupid than any other person. I would venture to say, however, that statistically, most Christians have been indoctrinated (i.e. brainwashed) into religion through their family. Lastly, people don’t convert easy, and a religion with a solid, logical foundation doesn’t help in terms of memetic replication. A religion that appeals to the emotions and subjective feelings would do that much better, especially if it can make itself seem like the thing people have been searching for their entire lives. I remember when John told Eric here on DA, “Don’t try and fight it. You know what I’m talking about.” This comment falls just in line with the idea as well:

    But if you’re talking with them, go around their intellect and speak to their conscience, their heart.

    (A religion that also has effective means of passing itself on, keeping itself intact, learning what to do with doubters and dissenters, et cetera, also has better chances.)

    ——

    You know my beliefs are based upon what the Bible says. This begs the question, “How do you know the Bible is correct?” AND “How do you know you are translating it properly?”. The subtle presupposition behind all these questions is that there is no way to be sure.

    Incorrect. The subtle tactic there would be to get you to actually defend your belief in the Bible, or point to why you believe it.

    Ultimately, I see this as a stall technique to lead me from one question to the next into a never ending rabbit hole of skepticism.

    There is a reason that without credulity you never arrive at the end of the rabbit hole where God is waiting …

    A two year old can understand a stove is hot.

    The analogy of partial comprehension always seems to be an evasion of all arguments against God. A loving parent with the desire and the means will not leave children left without certain things. In such a case, the children would have absolutely no reason to doubt the existence or love of their parents. What we find today is that the theistic explanation of the world is impoverished.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    karatemack,

    Well… if you really feel I haven’t answered a single question about God with logic (how it could be possible to be omniscient and omnipotent) then I guess I’m just not up to the task then.

    In regards to the omnipotent vs. omniscient thing, I don’t feel that you’ve actually presented a logical defense, because your defense seems to rely on changing the definition of “omnipotent.” By turning god into an automaton, you’ve basically argued that god is NOT omnipotent.

    The arguments against God seem to all be based upon logic, not evidence. Therefore I thought it was appropriate to dispute the argument against God using only logic.

    It’s a tough problem, because ultimately that logic needs to be grounded in some way. Perhaps you could start with your assumptions and then say, “If my assumption holds, then this logic would be correct.”

    Why can’t there be two perfects? I guess I don’t fully grasp what you’re getting at. Or if I do perhaps I disagree with your presupposition.

    This is only true if one course of action is completely the same as another course of action, which is clearly impossible. Every action sets off a chain of reactions in the universe (no matter how small) and none of them will be equivalent. Given that, only one chain could possibly be perfect. god’s actions, therefore would be determined and he would have no free will, no control over his actions, etc. Thus, if he has no control over his actions, he is not omnipotent.

    What other defenses without traction have you ruled out? Why have you ruled them out? Or is it OK for you to exclude all possible explanations without giving reasons why?

    What other defenses do you have in mind for the POE? The only one that anyone ever uses is the free will defense, because it is the only one that people think has any chance of actually working. Unfortunately, it doesn’t, but you’ve still just tossed it aside.

    If: 1. The original author of a work intended for it to convey truth which does not contradict. AND: 2. Some perfectly logical explanations of a text cause it to contradict itself. AND: 3. Some perfectly logical explanations of a text cause it to agree with perfect harmony. Then: Why is the work guilty until proven innocent?

    I don’t see that you’ve harmonized anything here, and you were talking about wanting to solely use logic instead of the Bible, so this whole entire idea of yours is coming out of left-field and not supported by your own words.

    Why then, knowing the author’s of scripture had to have been intelligent and that they wanted their work to be seen as “from God”, can we not assume that a translation which explains the perfect agreement of scripture is not best?

    Because we know that sometimes the authors weren’t trying to harmonize, for one. Besides, why give the benefit of the doubt here, when the errors are glaring and obvious?

    Christianity is criticized for it’s lack of proof for God (original cause). And yet science does not now (nor can it ever) identify the original cause of life. God or science there will always be an endless stream of questions which can never fully be answered.

    There’s a distinct difference there. Xianity is criticized because it claims to have an answer for the start of life, when it clearly doesn’t. Science admits as much. Xianity is also criticized because it makes claims based on zero evidence, while science clearly does not do this.

    That said… it’s not my goal to make you all angry with me.

    I can only speak for me, but I don’t think anyone here is angry with you. I get frustrated at times by the premature triumphant proclamations of theists, including you, but not angry. There’s no reason for anger.

    I honestly want to understand where you’re coming from but can’t seem to get my mind quite around the logic you’re using.

    It’s actually quite simple logic. There’s no evidence for god, so it’s irrational to believe that god exists.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    karatemack,

    Well… if you really feel I haven’t answered a single question about God with logic (how it could be possible to be omniscient and omnipotent) then I guess I’m just not up to the task then.

    In regards to the omnipotent vs. omniscient thing, I don’t feel that you’ve actually presented a logical defense, because your defense seems to rely on changing the definition of “omnipotent.” By turning god into an automaton, you’ve basically argued that god is NOT omnipotent.

    The arguments against God seem to all be based upon logic, not evidence. Therefore I thought it was appropriate to dispute the argument against God using only logic.

    It’s a tough problem, because ultimately that logic needs to be grounded in some way. Perhaps you could start with your assumptions and then say, “If my assumption holds, then this logic would be correct.”

    Why can’t there be two perfects? I guess I don’t fully grasp what you’re getting at. Or if I do perhaps I disagree with your presupposition.

    This is only true if one course of action is completely the same as another course of action, which is clearly impossible. Every action sets off a chain of reactions in the universe (no matter how small) and none of them will be equivalent. Given that, only one chain could possibly be perfect. god’s actions, therefore would be determined and he would have no free will, no control over his actions, etc. Thus, if he has no control over his actions, he is not omnipotent.

    What other defenses without traction have you ruled out? Why have you ruled them out? Or is it OK for you to exclude all possible explanations without giving reasons why?

    What other defenses do you have in mind for the POE? The only one that anyone ever uses is the free will defense, because it is the only one that people think has any chance of actually working. Unfortunately, it doesn’t, but you’ve still just tossed it aside.

    If: 1. The original author of a work intended for it to convey truth which does not contradict. AND: 2. Some perfectly logical explanations of a text cause it to contradict itself. AND: 3. Some perfectly logical explanations of a text cause it to agree with perfect harmony. Then: Why is the work guilty until proven innocent?

    I don’t see that you’ve harmonized anything here, and you were talking about wanting to solely use logic instead of the Bible, so this whole entire idea of yours is coming out of left-field and not supported by your own words.

    Why then, knowing the author’s of scripture had to have been intelligent and that they wanted their work to be seen as “from God”, can we not assume that a translation which explains the perfect agreement of scripture is not best?

    Because we know that sometimes the authors weren’t trying to harmonize, for one. Besides, why give the benefit of the doubt here, when the errors are glaring and obvious?

    Christianity is criticized for it’s lack of proof for God (original cause). And yet science does not now (nor can it ever) identify the original cause of life. God or science there will always be an endless stream of questions which can never fully be answered.

    There’s a distinct difference there. Xianity is criticized because it claims to have an answer for the start of life, when it clearly doesn’t. Science admits as much. Xianity is also criticized because it makes claims based on zero evidence, while science clearly does not do this.

    That said… it’s not my goal to make you all angry with me.

    I can only speak for me, but I don’t think anyone here is angry with you. I get frustrated at times by the premature triumphant proclamations of theists, including you, but not angry. There’s no reason for anger.

    I honestly want to understand where you’re coming from but can’t seem to get my mind quite around the logic you’re using.

    It’s actually quite simple logic. There’s no evidence for god, so it’s irrational to believe that god exists.

  • heliobates

    @ karatemack

    I’ll interrupt your “strategic withdrawal” to yet again point out something you refuse to understand.

    That is akin to asking the scholar how he knows he understands the meaning of poetry written long ago.

    My sister is an assistant professor at the University of Toronto. Her husband is a full professor there as well. Me? I have a degree in “Do you want fries with that?” and so introduce this information only to point out that I know a few “scholars” and why I find your handwaving pathetic.

    At a recent dinner party, I had a looooong chat with one of my sister’s faculty friends and I asked him a similarly basic question about his field (midieval siege warfare). That scholar could provide excruciating detail to explain how he knows what he knows, what he doesn’t know, and why. Since my question was typical of someone ignorant in the field, he was even able to recommend a few introductory texts to correct my utter lack of knowledge.

    That you would view our challenge to any of the evidentiary support (conspicuous by its absence) for your arguments as akin to an ignoramus demanding answers of an august personage says nothing good about your intellectual integrity.

    The real question is not whether or not God exists, the question being addressed was whether or not the idea of omnipotence (and omniscience) rules out the possibility of God’s existence.

    The follow-on question that helps answer the “real question” is “how do you know”. You made a contradictory statement when you proposed that one person’s definition of omipotence was wrong but that the nature of the being under consideration may possibly be unknowable. And what about “Sure… God is a slave to being God.” Do you really expect any attentive audience to let that slide? You just said that God’s nature may be unknowable. In that context, when you start a sentence with “Sure”, you sound as if you’re just making shit up.

    Someone says “well omnipotence means this”. You respond “no it doesn’t”. The discussion does not move until you explain why your version of omnipotence is better. You’ve made the claim, so back it up. Instead what I and others have observed is “well, logically…” which is rhetorical handwaving. You want a special, possibly a technical definition of omnipotence, then provide it and say why. Provide a link, cite a source and stop being surprised because no one here thinks “well karatemack said it so it must be true.”

    “How do you know that?” is a perfectly legitimate question and is never diversionary. You’ve chosen to engage in discussion with a community of individuals who have completely different world views and presuppositions. You’re going to get called on almost every statement you make, and so you should. If you can’t provide evidentiary defence for something that you propose, then you have no business proposing it in the first place.

  • karatemack

    @Heliobates:

    I’m blushing as I read back over what you were asking for and realizing I didn’t supply it. Below is a list of several sources with the definition of omnipotence followed by the source from which it was obtained.

    (REFERENCE 1)

    om•nip•o•tent -tənt adj

    [ME, fr. AF, fr. L omnipotent-, omnipotens, fr. omni- + potent-, potens potent] 14c

    1 often cap : almighty 1

    2 : having virtually unlimited authority or influence 〈an omnipotent ruler〉

    3 obs : arrant — om•nip•o•tent•ly adv

    Merriam-Webster, Inc: Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Eleventh ed. Springfield, Mass. : Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003

    (REFERENCE 2)

    OMNIPOTENCE* God’s unlimited authority to bring into existence or cause to happen whatsoever he wills. See God, Being and Attributes of.

    Elwell, Walter A. ; Comfort, Philip Wesley: Tyndale Bible Dictionary. Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House Publishers, 2001 (Tyndale Reference Library), S. 976

    (REFERENCE 3)

    Omnipotence. The term omnipotence signifies that God is all powerful. However, it does not suggest that because God is all powerful He can and does do anything or everything at random. A proper definition states: “God is all-powerful and able to do whatever he wills. Since his will is limited by his nature, God can do everything that is in harmony with his perfections.”27 In other words, the question, “Can God create a stone so large that He could not lift it?” is not a legitimate question. God can do all things that are in harmony with His nature and Person.

    The name Almighty means “the mighty one” and is probably derived from the verb meaning “to be strong” (cf. Gen. 17:1; 28:3; Isa. 13:6; Ezek. 1:24; Joel 1:15). Because God is Almighty, all things are possible (Matt. 19:26). The One who has formed the unborn child (Ps. 139:13–16) and created the heavens (Jer. 32:17) can do all things; nothing is too hard for Him. He does as He pleases (Ps. 115:3) and decrees all things in accordance with His will (Eph. 1:11).

    God cannot do things that are not in harmony with His nature. He cannot go back on His word (2 Tim. 2:13); He cannot lie (Heb. 6:18); He has no relationship to sin (Hab. 1:13; James 1:13). Since God is able to do as He pleases, the doctrine of God’s omnipotence becomes a source of great comfort for the believer (cf. Gen. 18:14; 1 Pet. 1:5). There are also relative attributes of God that relate to morality.

    Enns, Paul P.: The Moody Handbook of Theology. Chicago, Ill. : Moody Press, 1997, c1989, S. 195

    (REFERENCE 4)

    om•nip•o•tent /ɒmˈnɪpətənt/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[om-nip-uh-tuhnt] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation

    –adjective 1. almighty or infinite in power, as God.

    2. having very great or unlimited authority or power.

    –noun 3. an omnipotent being.

    4. the Omnipotent, God.

    (taken from http://www.dictionary.com)

  • karatemack

    @Heliobates:

    I’m blushing as I read back over what you were asking for and realizing I didn’t supply it. Below is a list of several sources with the definition of omnipotence followed by the source from which it was obtained.

    (REFERENCE 1)

    om•nip•o•tent -tənt adj

    [ME, fr. AF, fr. L omnipotent-, omnipotens, fr. omni- + potent-, potens potent] 14c

    1 often cap : almighty 1

    2 : having virtually unlimited authority or influence 〈an omnipotent ruler〉

    3 obs : arrant — om•nip•o•tent•ly adv

    Merriam-Webster, Inc: Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Eleventh ed. Springfield, Mass. : Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003

    (REFERENCE 2)

    OMNIPOTENCE* God’s unlimited authority to bring into existence or cause to happen whatsoever he wills. See God, Being and Attributes of.

    Elwell, Walter A. ; Comfort, Philip Wesley: Tyndale Bible Dictionary. Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House Publishers, 2001 (Tyndale Reference Library), S. 976

    (REFERENCE 3)

    Omnipotence. The term omnipotence signifies that God is all powerful. However, it does not suggest that because God is all powerful He can and does do anything or everything at random. A proper definition states: “God is all-powerful and able to do whatever he wills. Since his will is limited by his nature, God can do everything that is in harmony with his perfections.”27 In other words, the question, “Can God create a stone so large that He could not lift it?” is not a legitimate question. God can do all things that are in harmony with His nature and Person.

    The name Almighty means “the mighty one” and is probably derived from the verb meaning “to be strong” (cf. Gen. 17:1; 28:3; Isa. 13:6; Ezek. 1:24; Joel 1:15). Because God is Almighty, all things are possible (Matt. 19:26). The One who has formed the unborn child (Ps. 139:13–16) and created the heavens (Jer. 32:17) can do all things; nothing is too hard for Him. He does as He pleases (Ps. 115:3) and decrees all things in accordance with His will (Eph. 1:11).

    God cannot do things that are not in harmony with His nature. He cannot go back on His word (2 Tim. 2:13); He cannot lie (Heb. 6:18); He has no relationship to sin (Hab. 1:13; James 1:13). Since God is able to do as He pleases, the doctrine of God’s omnipotence becomes a source of great comfort for the believer (cf. Gen. 18:14; 1 Pet. 1:5). There are also relative attributes of God that relate to morality.

    Enns, Paul P.: The Moody Handbook of Theology. Chicago, Ill. : Moody Press, 1997, c1989, S. 195

    (REFERENCE 4)

    om•nip•o•tent /ɒmˈnɪpətənt/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[om-nip-uh-tuhnt] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation

    –adjective 1. almighty or infinite in power, as God.

    2. having very great or unlimited authority or power.

    –noun 3. an omnipotent being.

    4. the Omnipotent, God.

    (taken from http://www.dictionary.com)

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Reference 3 seems to be nothing more than an apologetic that you’ve used and that I pointed out the problems with.

    Of course, I don’t see why god can’t lie or go back on his word. Maybe that is part of his nature. If you are contending that he can’t do these things, then he is not omnipotent, because he does not have “almighty or infinite power” [omitting the "in" from the above definition].

  • Brad

    Perhaps I left this special stone unturned:

    Prove love exists.

    God is a person, not an experience. Love is subjective: it can be created by people. The existence of gods is objective. If you still think this challenge holds weight as an analogy, however, then it is still easy to find that love exists in the world (even a psychopath can agree to this – they just would say that the feeling is irrational). The fact that so many of us, parents especially, sacrifice so much of ourselves for others, in absence of plausible egoistic motives for doing so, is proof that people have strong affections for others. This argument holds even if you don’t hold all of the sappy stories and personal testimonies to be true. (Note also, that subjective testimony can potentially prove facts of subjectivity – but it cannot in the same way prove facts of objectivity.)

    And, time for more problems with the Bible…

    decrees all things in accordance with His will (Eph. 1:11).

    This goes against the doctrine of free will, which means the POE is as powerful as ever in such a case.

    He cannot go back on His word (2 Tim. 2:13)

    Case against point: Didn’t God vow to Abraham that his descendants would have divine favor? But then God’s chosen people immediately became enslaved for centuries to come.

    the doctrine of God’s omnipotence becomes a source of great comfort for the believer

    except in conjunction with the doctrine of hell.

  • Brad

    Perhaps I left this special stone unturned:

    Prove love exists.

    God is a person, not an experience. Love is subjective: it can be created by people. The existence of gods is objective. If you still think this challenge holds weight as an analogy, however, then it is still easy to find that love exists in the world (even a psychopath can agree to this – they just would say that the feeling is irrational). The fact that so many of us, parents especially, sacrifice so much of ourselves for others, in absence of plausible egoistic motives for doing so, is proof that people have strong affections for others. This argument holds even if you don’t hold all of the sappy stories and personal testimonies to be true. (Note also, that subjective testimony can potentially prove facts of subjectivity – but it cannot in the same way prove facts of objectivity.)

    And, time for more problems with the Bible…

    decrees all things in accordance with His will (Eph. 1:11).

    This goes against the doctrine of free will, which means the POE is as powerful as ever in such a case.

    He cannot go back on His word (2 Tim. 2:13)

    Case against point: Didn’t God vow to Abraham that his descendants would have divine favor? But then God’s chosen people immediately became enslaved for centuries to come.

    the doctrine of God’s omnipotence becomes a source of great comfort for the believer

    except in conjunction with the doctrine of hell.

  • karatemack

    @OMGF:

    I didn’t think you would like/accept the Moody quote. The only reason I listed it is to show that there is harmony between the conventional definition of omnipotence and the theological definition I believe to be true.

    Can’t God have power and authority over sin and still not be able to sin? I don’t see having authority over all things as the same as having the ability to do all things. Perhaps I’m not understanding correctly, but why does God have to be able to sin in order to be omnipotent according to the definitions above? It seems the Moody definition (while I know you don’t agree with it’s theology) is in perfect harmony with all the other definitions given for omnipotence. So, unless you can provide me with reason to reject it, I feel it stands as a reasonable definition.

  • karatemack

    @OMGF:

    I didn’t think you would like/accept the Moody quote. The only reason I listed it is to show that there is harmony between the conventional definition of omnipotence and the theological definition I believe to be true.

    Can’t God have power and authority over sin and still not be able to sin? I don’t see having authority over all things as the same as having the ability to do all things. Perhaps I’m not understanding correctly, but why does God have to be able to sin in order to be omnipotent according to the definitions above? It seems the Moody definition (while I know you don’t agree with it’s theology) is in perfect harmony with all the other definitions given for omnipotence. So, unless you can provide me with reason to reject it, I feel it stands as a reasonable definition.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    karatemack,

    The only reason I listed it is to show that there is harmony between the conventional definition of omnipotence and the theological definition I believe to be true.

    You mean to show that someone believes that there is harmony. Just because Moody said, doesn’t make it so.

    Can’t God have power and authority over sin and still not be able to sin?

    I think it is irrelevant. He can’t perform certain actions, therefore he is not omnipotent. It’s not my fault that omnipotence is contradictory to your notions of god.

    Perhaps I’m not understanding correctly, but why does God have to be able to sin in order to be omnipotent according to the definitions above?

    Omnipotence means the absolute power to do anything. You are trying to redefine it as the power to do anything that you think a god should be able to do. If I can lie, then I have a power that god does not have, if god is unable to lie. That means god is not omnipotent.

    It seems the Moody definition (while I know you don’t agree with it’s theology) is in perfect harmony with all the other definitions given for omnipotence.

    Except that it clearly isn’t, since he is putting limits on god’s power. An omnipotent being can not have limited power, or else that being is not omnipotent, seeing as how the definition of omnipotence is the ability to weild unlimited power. It’s a very simple and obvious contradiction.

  • karatemack

    @OMGF:

    “It’s a very simple and obvious contradiction.”

    I don’t agree with any of your assertions. Given the definitions I’ve supplied I do not arrive at the same definition of omnipotence as you are suggesting. Can you give any other evidence that your preferred interpretation of the definition is correct? I believe the Moody quote quite well explains how this term is in harmony with my translation. Certainly I don’t expect that you will accept my view as fact (too much of your argument requires you not to). I do, however, feel that the evidence I’ve shown proves my opinions are valid as options; not the mindless brainwashed propoganda you would make them out to be.

  • karatemack

    @OMGF:

    “It’s a very simple and obvious contradiction.”

    I don’t agree with any of your assertions. Given the definitions I’ve supplied I do not arrive at the same definition of omnipotence as you are suggesting. Can you give any other evidence that your preferred interpretation of the definition is correct? I believe the Moody quote quite well explains how this term is in harmony with my translation. Certainly I don’t expect that you will accept my view as fact (too much of your argument requires you not to). I do, however, feel that the evidence I’ve shown proves my opinions are valid as options; not the mindless brainwashed propoganda you would make them out to be.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    karatemack,

    Can you give any other evidence that your preferred interpretation of the definition is correct?

    Yes, the dictionary definitions you gave.

    I believe the Moody quote quite well explains how this term is in harmony with my translation.

    The Moody quote is not in harmony with the dictionary, since it is opposed to the dictionary definition of unlimited power.

    Certainly I don’t expect that you will accept my view as fact (too much of your argument requires you not to).

    It has nothing to do with that. It has to do with Moody’s re-defining the words that he uses.

    I do, however, feel that the evidence I’ve shown proves my opinions are valid as options; not the mindless brainwashed propoganda you would make them out to be.

    Not to sound harsh, but in what universe would this be true? You’ve expressed an opinion, and then quoted someone else giving the same opinion. Simply because Moody agrees with you doesn’t make either of you right. You also quoted the actual definition which is not supportive of Moody’s opinion or your’s. So, what evidence is that? The evidence you’ve given (the definition of the word) does not support you.

  • karatemack

    @OMGF:

    “The evidence you’ve given (the definition of the word) does not support you.”

    The defintion I gave said: “2 : having virtually unlimited authority or influence 〈an omnipotent ruler〉”

    I have stated that God has power and authority over sin. I have pointed out that this is much different than having the ability to sin. What does God lose power or authority over by not being able to sin? The definition supports EXACTLY what I’m saying.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    You also posted this:

    om•nip•o•tent /ɒmˈnɪpətənt/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[om-nip-uh-tuhnt] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation

    –adjective 1. almighty or infinite in power, as God.

    This definition is specific to god, which means it is the one you should be using. Omnipotence in a strict sense is unlimited ability to do anything. Colloquially, we might not use it in that strict sense when speaking of abilities, but that’s an incorrect usage of the word when speaking of the power of the Xian god. The Xian god can literally do anything.

    Your opinion is not supported by this. Not only can god not lie according to you, but he can’t even make up his mind. He’s a robot that has only one course of action, as I’ve already explained. There will only be one perfect choice amongst many, and that is the only one god has open to him, hence he has no choice and no free will. This is contradictory to the unlimited power to do anything.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    You also posted this:

    om•nip•o•tent /ɒmˈnɪpətənt/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[om-nip-uh-tuhnt] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation

    –adjective 1. almighty or infinite in power, as God.

    This definition is specific to god, which means it is the one you should be using. Omnipotence in a strict sense is unlimited ability to do anything. Colloquially, we might not use it in that strict sense when speaking of abilities, but that’s an incorrect usage of the word when speaking of the power of the Xian god. The Xian god can literally do anything.

    Your opinion is not supported by this. Not only can god not lie according to you, but he can’t even make up his mind. He’s a robot that has only one course of action, as I’ve already explained. There will only be one perfect choice amongst many, and that is the only one god has open to him, hence he has no choice and no free will. This is contradictory to the unlimited power to do anything.

  • karatemack

    @OMGF:

    “Colloquially, we might not use it in that strict sense when speaking of abilities, but that’s an incorrect usage of the word when speaking of the power of the Xian god. The Xian god can literally do anything.”

    Hmmm… some pretty solid claims about who the “Xian” God is. Care to back that up? Seems to me that the Moody definition (as well as my own) is much different that this. Also, you point out that infinate power need not refer strictly to abilities. If a man were STRONG enough (or POWERFUL enough) to lift a car, he would then not be weak enough to lack the ability to lift the car. Does this strength limit the man’s abilities? You’re being ridiculous and just not willing to accept it.

    “Not only can god not lie according to you, but he can’t even make up his mind. He’s a robot that has only one course of action, as I’ve already explained. There will only be one perfect choice amongst many, and that is the only one god has open to him, hence he has no choice and no free will.”

    Have you demonstrated this? I must’ve missed it. I mean you’ve certainly said these things before but I don’t see where you ‘demonstrated’ them. Why is there only one perfect choice? I guess you’d have to be God to really know. But since you don’t possess omniscience then I suppose there might be things that even you don’t quite understand.

    Either way, I supplied the information people asked for which supports my view entirely. Anyhow, I’m done with this particular topic as I think we’ve both clearly expressed how we feel now.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    karatemack,

    Hmmm… some pretty solid claims about who the “Xian” God is. Care to back that up?

    They are the claims of Xians when Xians are not apologizing or looking for loopholes to explain away why god can’t eradicate evil or somesuch thing.

    Seems to me that the Moody definition (as well as my own) is much different that this.

    Sorry, but you don’t get to re-define god. If you want to claim that you and Moody are correct, that’s fine, but you don’t get to call god “omnipotent.”

    Also, you point out that infinate power need not refer strictly to abilities. If a man were STRONG enough (or POWERFUL enough) to lift a car, he would then not be weak enough to lack the ability to lift the car. Does this strength limit the man’s abilities? You’re being ridiculous and just not willing to accept it.

    I’m not saying that. The analogous situation would be if the man could only lift cars and continued to do so simply because lifting cars was the best thing that anyone could do. Again, you wish to claim that god is omnipotent (aside: the word omnipotent literally means all-powerful, as in omni meaning all and potent meaning power) yet that this god is not omnipotent because he can’t do this or that. Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways. If god can not do certain things (lacks the power to) then he is not omnipotent. If you are telling me that god can’t lie, then that may be true for your god, but that means he is not omnipotent.

    Have you demonstrated this? I must’ve missed it.

    I did explain it, yes. You wish to contend that there are multiple perfect avenues for god, but this simply can’t be so. One choice will always be better than another in some way, whether it is largely so or imperceptibly so. In your example of eating vegetables, each contains different amounts of vitamins and different types. Yes, they are all good, but the perfect diet would contain the exact amounts of each vitamin and mineral that was needed in the perfect proportions. It’s not like god can eat some spinach or broccoli and claim that both are perfect choices.

    Why is there only one perfect choice?

    Because you will never find two completely equal sets of things to choose from.

    I guess you’d have to be God to really know.

    Perhaps you think this quip of yours was clever, but we don’t need to be god in order to employ simple logic and recognize that no two things are truly equal in value.

    But since you don’t possess omniscience then I suppose there might be things that even you don’t quite understand.

    If you are going to employ this defense, then you may as well give up right now, because I can very easily turn this around and note that you also don’t have omniscience, and therefore you can’t possible be able to speak about god’s attributes, considering that you can’t know them.

    Either way, I supplied the information people asked for which supports my view entirely.

    And, that’s the whole point is that you think that somehow by printing someone’s opinion that is close to yours that somehow you’ve proven that your opinion is valid. That’s called an appeal to authority, and it’s logically fallacious. When we look at the actual definition of the word, you are not supported. Again, you don’t get to redefine the words that we use. If they don’t accurately represent what god is (to you) then find a better word to use or make one up.

  • karatemack

    @OMGF:

    Look up ALMIGHTY. (mirriam-websters defines it as having absolute power over all). Again not the ability to do anything. I’m not the one redefining words. You clearly are. Which is fine, I don’t see this argument over definitions getting anywhere which is why I will let this one go. I can’t help you if you won’t accept proven facts.

    As for perfect choices. Let’s say I’m standing on a road which forks, just a half mile up the road the forks merge again and the road continues. I’m forced with a choice of which way to go at the fork. Both are equal distance. Both are made of the same material and in the same condition. The view on each side is a mirror reflective of the other side. It will take the same amount of time to walk down either side. There is the same amount of safety and danger on each side. No matter which side I choose the same result will occur. Of course, only a being with foreknowledge could ever recognize that such a choice existed, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility of two perfects existing.

    Let’s take your example. Let’s say I have packed a carrot for lunch. Is there a ‘perfect’ second in which I should eat it? Or are there many seconds (nanoseconds even) in which it would carry the same result if I were to consume the carrot? Certainly I could choose between any of the seconds carrying the same result each of them leaving me with the same result…

    Anyhow. I’m really tired of this topic of things and we don’t seem to be getting anywhere. I’m not sure there’s much else to say.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    karatemack,

    (mirriam-websters defines it as having absolute power over all). Again not the ability to do anything.

    What do you think “absolute” means?

    I can’t help you if you won’t accept proven facts.

    What proven facts? What facts have you brought to the table? The only facts I see are the definitions of the words, which you are mis-using. You can’t say something is “absolute” and then claim that this means non-absoluteness.

    Let’s say I’m standing on a road which forks, just a half mile up the road the forks merge again and the road continues. I’m forced with a choice of which way to go at the fork. Both are equal distance.

    No, they aren’t. To the infinite decimal place, there will be some difference that god should be able to detect and decide which one is actually better.

    Both are made of the same material and in the same condition.

    Again, no they are not. How did the mix get the exact same proportions of material down to the infinite decimal place? Again, one will be different from the other giving an unequal situation.

    The view on each side is a mirror reflective of the other side.

    Again, this is impossible. As one starts the fork, there will be differences (obviously since one can see the other road at the beginning) but it’s impossible that everything will be the exact same.
    <blockquote<It will take the same amount of time to walk down either side.
    To what degree of accuracy? I would think that god could calculate to the infinite decimal point and it’s dubious that these would perfectly line up.

    No matter which side I choose the same result will occur.

    If the end result is only measured as “getting to the end of the fork” then perhaps, and for all practical purposes to our limited abilities we would say that roads are the same. But, to a god that can tell differences to the infinite decimal place, they would not be the same. Since they are different, then one is superior to the other in some way. Hence, god would only have one choice in order to maintain perfection.

    Of course, only a being with foreknowledge could ever recognize that such a choice existed, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility of two perfects existing.

    Yes, actually it does. No two choices are exactly the same, hence one will end up being better than the other.

    Let’s say I have packed a carrot for lunch. Is there a ‘perfect’ second in which I should eat it?

    Yes. Or, more precisely, there’s a perfect time down to the infinite decimal place in which you should eat it to maximize your health/nourishment/etc.

    Or are there many seconds (nanoseconds even) in which it would carry the same result if I were to consume the carrot?

    Only one specific time will maximize the correct balance between your hunger and bringing in the nutrients/calories contained in the carrot. To you, whether you eat it at 12:01 or 12:02 probably doesn’t matter, but you aren’t perfect. To god, these things would matter if he wanted to be perfect in everything.

    Certainly I could choose between any of the seconds carrying the same result each of them leaving me with the same result…

    Nope, sorry, not true. You seem to have a difficulty with understanding perfection beyond your mortal state of mind. You see two choices and can’t tell the difference, because to you there is none. You don’t have the ability to see to the infinitessimal degree all the potential differences, but a god would not similarly have that problem. For instance, we know from physics that it is actually impossible for one object to occupy the space precisely halfway between two objects. How is this impossible you ask? You could lay out a ruler, put one marble at the beginning, another marble at the 10 inch mark, and then a third at the 5 inch mark and you would claim that the third marble is halfway between the first two.

    You would be wrong, however. For our limited abilities to discern, we would say that it is close enough to halfway for humans, because we lack the ability to see down to the detail that is needed to precisely tell whether the first two marbles really are equi-distant. If we were to delve down deeper and deeper into the decimal points, however, differences would start to appear. Maybe it’s the 16th decimal place, maybe it’s the 16,000th, but any difference means that you have not actually placed the third marble in the middle.

    Anyhow. I’m really tired of this topic of things and we don’t seem to be getting anywhere. I’m not sure there’s much else to say.

    Because you seem to not be able to grasp the limitations of your own human mind. You need to start seeing the consequences of what you are saying about god. If god is perfect, he can see down to the most minute detail and find that no two choices will ever be perfectly equal, therefore all choices to him have one slightly better option. This leaves him with always having to select that slightly better option, therefore, he has no choice if he wants to remain perfect.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Karatemack,
    Let me try a different approach. You seem to be held up on the idea that god can’t lie and whether that contradicts omnipotence, but that’s really only a small sub-set of the larger issue. It’s not so much that god can’t lie, but that god can’t choose anything. god didn’t create the universe or humans because he loves us, but because that is what perfection demanded. IOW, he has no choice in the matter, because only one path leads to perfection. This means a total lack of freedom in his choices. But, surely it can be argued that being free is a good thing, so god would be lacking something that is good. If that is the case, then god can not be perfect, since god would not have perfect freedom. Hence, we have a logical contradiction.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Karatemack,
    Let me try a different approach. You seem to be held up on the idea that god can’t lie and whether that contradicts omnipotence, but that’s really only a small sub-set of the larger issue. It’s not so much that god can’t lie, but that god can’t choose anything. god didn’t create the universe or humans because he loves us, but because that is what perfection demanded. IOW, he has no choice in the matter, because only one path leads to perfection. This means a total lack of freedom in his choices. But, surely it can be argued that being free is a good thing, so god would be lacking something that is good. If that is the case, then god can not be perfect, since god would not have perfect freedom. Hence, we have a logical contradiction.

  • karatemack

    To create or not to create? Do you believe that God HAD to create the earth (and everything in it) in order for Him to be ‘perfect’?

    What’s nice and subjective about all of the examples we gave for ‘alternative perfects’ is that the desired end result was always different. Could God not choose any end result He desired and still be perfect? If God wanted to make robots, then God would be perfect if He made robots. If God wanted to make people with free will, then God would be perfect if He accomplished this.

    Well, perhaps you think that because people suffer and some will ultimately reject God that He has somehow failed. We look at the ‘broad’ circumstances of life and determine that God cannot be at work otherwise things would be very different. But as you pointed out, God can calculate every action and reaction to infinity and then determine what is the PERFECT way to bring about His desired end result. You can’t see the full picture because you only have one piece of the puzzle, one strand of thread from the rug… given a proper perspective shift it becomes very clear that God is at work and can be trusted to bring about the best possible good at all times while still accomplishing His desired end result.

    Or maybe you question if God’s desired end result is really ‘good’. The same piece of plastic can make either a drinking cup or a toilet seat. Both would serve a useful purpose to the one who created them. In either case the piece of plastic (once formed) would best find fulfillment by performing the task for which they were made. The creator of the toilet seat and cup may choose either of these for their own good pleasure. Either would be an acceptable choice, neither more beneficial than the other. Of course I suppose we could wax eloquently about the advantages and disadvantages of cups and toilet seats… but that would be ridiculous… just like the premise upon which this ‘question’ rests. Silly things are always simply that… silly.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    karatemack,

    To create or not to create? Do you believe that God HAD to create the earth (and everything in it) in order for Him to be ‘perfect’?

    I believe that that is the logical conclusion of your argument. If god must be perfect in all things, then everything we see must be the result of god being perfect. All the crime, violence, etc. must be part of god’s perfection.

    What’s nice and subjective about all of the examples we gave for ‘alternative perfects’ is that the desired end result was always different. Could God not choose any end result He desired and still be perfect?

    No. In order to remain perfect, god’s end result must also be perfect as well as the choice he makes and the path he takes to get to that choice, etc. Again, you are seeing this in a limited way. Perfection means that everything is perfect, not just the end result or some choice here or there.

    Well, perhaps you think that because people suffer and some will ultimately reject God that He has somehow failed.

    Yes, I see the problem of evil as a huge stumbling block for apologists…because it is. Your argument requires us to believe that it is a perfect situation that people suffer; that it somehow demonstrates god’s perfection.

    But as you pointed out, God can calculate every action and reaction to infinity and then determine what is the PERFECT way to bring about His desired end result.

    We can go down this rabbit hole if you would like, but we’re getting off the topic, which is that god must choose one thing and one thing only in all situations to be perfect, hence god has no autonomous free will. Yet, this is contradictory since it is desirable to have free will.

    You can’t see the full picture because you only have one piece of the puzzle, one strand of thread from the rug… given a proper perspective shift it becomes very clear that God is at work and can be trusted to bring about the best possible good at all times while still accomplishing His desired end result.

    You can’t see the full picture either, so your assertions about god’s perfection or his aims are suspect at best. Still, it’s not hard to imagine a world where there is more good than the one we live in now. This speaks against the idea that this is the best of all possible worlds.

    Or maybe you question if God’s desired end result is really ‘good’.

    I fail to see how throwing the majority of humanity into eternal torment is in any way “good.”

    Silly things are always simply that… silly.

    I fail to see how my argument that god must be a robot if he is perfect in all things to be silly. You brought up that god can not do anything that isn’t perfect. This leaves god with only one path at any given time, since no two situations/choices/etc. will ever be exactly alike – hence one will always be superior to the other in some degree. god, in this scenario has no choices about anything, and must conform to whatever makes him perfect. But, having no choice is less desirable than having choice, so god is less than perfect. It’s a nice little logical conundrum that you’ve fashioned for yourself, and it won’t do to simply assert that god somehow has equally perfect choices for everything, because we know that that simply is not the case.

  • karatemack

    While it is true that God does everything perfectly, this does not mean that God cannot encorporate imperfect beings into His perfect plan. If God had decided to make the sun blue or purple or grey or some other color which would have affected nothing except the preference God had for the color of the sun, then He had many different options to choose from. All of your models suggest God did something to become perfect. I believe God has always been perfect, therefore He did not have to create to become perfect. To create or not create… either way would have been fine. Did God have to make creatures in His image or could He have just dwelt on earth Himself? Either way would have been fine. You presume too much.

    “You can’t see the full picture either, so your assertions about god’s perfection or his aims are suspect at best.”

    If I were going off of my own observation and opinion as you are, then this would be true. But I am appealing to words not my own, those I believe to have been inspired by God Himself. I guess that’s an appeal to authority. So what? If someone with authority has spoken, then we should give heavy consideration to the things they have said. Anything else is foolishness. Imagine two students in mathematics who reject the material simply because neither one of them can understand it. It’s just plain silly. (the premise that we cannot ever appeal to authority)

  • karatemack

    While it is true that God does everything perfectly, this does not mean that God cannot encorporate imperfect beings into His perfect plan. If God had decided to make the sun blue or purple or grey or some other color which would have affected nothing except the preference God had for the color of the sun, then He had many different options to choose from. All of your models suggest God did something to become perfect. I believe God has always been perfect, therefore He did not have to create to become perfect. To create or not create… either way would have been fine. Did God have to make creatures in His image or could He have just dwelt on earth Himself? Either way would have been fine. You presume too much.

    “You can’t see the full picture either, so your assertions about god’s perfection or his aims are suspect at best.”

    If I were going off of my own observation and opinion as you are, then this would be true. But I am appealing to words not my own, those I believe to have been inspired by God Himself. I guess that’s an appeal to authority. So what? If someone with authority has spoken, then we should give heavy consideration to the things they have said. Anything else is foolishness. Imagine two students in mathematics who reject the material simply because neither one of them can understand it. It’s just plain silly. (the premise that we cannot ever appeal to authority)

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    While it is true that God does everything perfectly, this does not mean that God cannot encorporate imperfect beings into His perfect plan.

    I’m undecided on that score. However, that was not the argument put forth. The argument is that you must say that what we have is the result of god acting perfectly.

    If God had decided to make the sun blue or purple or grey or some other color which would have affected nothing except the preference God had for the color of the sun, then He had many different options to choose from.

    Actually, the color of the sun is a reflection of how we evolved and what wavelengths our eyes are sensitive to and what wavelengths the atmosphere passes, etc. The sun is purple and red and yellow and blue, etc. all at the same time. Still, there was only one choice according to the logical conclusion of your argument. Since there are differences in all of those factors, only one could be perfect.

    All of your models suggest God did something to become perfect.

    Nice straw man, but I’ve never said that.

    I believe God has always been perfect, therefore He did not have to create to become perfect.

    No, but the logical conclusion of your argument is that he did have to create in order to be/remain perfect. If creating us was the perfect course of action (out of one perfect choice) then not doing so would mean that god is not perfect.

    To create or not create… either way would have been fine.

    Ugh. There are differences between the two choices; to create or not create. Based on those differences, one will be superior to the other in some way. god can not choose the inferior one and remain perfect since, as you put it, god can not act in non-perfect ways.

    You presume too much.

    Um, no. The problem is that you don’t understand the arguments that you are making.

    If I were going off of my own observation and opinion as you are, then this would be true. But I am appealing to words not my own, those I believe to have been inspired by God Himself.

    There’s a couple things wrong here. First off, I’m not going off of opinion, but definition and logic. Second, your opinion of your ability to interpret god’s word and your assumptions that the Bible are god’s words add more layers to the equation which dilutes your claim to the truth even further, because it raises more questions. How do you know that you have god’s words? How do you know that god was being truthful and honest with you? How do you know that you are correctly interpreting those words? Etc.

    I guess that’s an appeal to authority. So what?

    It’s logically fallacious is what.

    If someone with authority has spoken, then we should give heavy consideration to the things they have said.

    Only if that person is a known authority and what they have said can be verified. Words from god can not be similarly verified and you have no evidence that the words are actually from the authority that you claim or whether that authority was speaking truthfully.

    Anything else is foolishness.

    Even those in authority can be wrong.

    Imagine two students in mathematics who reject the material simply because neither one of them can understand it. It’s just plain silly. (the premise that we cannot ever appeal to authority)

    It’s not that you can’t ever appeal to authority, it’s that you can’t do so in unwarranted fashion. By not understanding the logical fallacy that you are decrying, you put yourself in the position of those students who reject math simply because they don’t understand it.

  • karatemack

    @OMGF:

    I really want to try to understand this one, but can’t. Why can’t there be neutral choices? Why is one always more ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ than another? I have always believed in neutral choices (IE: which outfit will I wear today), if there are no neutrals then shouldn’t I be concerned with trying to always make the ‘right’ choice in even the most mundane situations?

    If you want to chalk this one up to an impass due to my lack of understanding, go ahead. But I really can’t relate to the world without neutral choices you are referring to. I don’t see how God choosing to create (over not creating) dictates this must have been the perfect thing to do simply because God is perfect. To me God can create simply because He wants to, not because He has to. Before my wife and I were married I didn’t have to choose to love her. I could have chosen to love any number of women. It doesn’t seem to be a matter of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ until I actually commit (wherever you define ‘commit’) to one woman.

    Anyhow, I guess I’ll agree to disagree here. Unless you can offer me a better explanation of no neutral decisions… I just don’t understand what you mean here.

  • karatemack

    @OMGF:

    I really want to try to understand this one, but can’t. Why can’t there be neutral choices? Why is one always more ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ than another? I have always believed in neutral choices (IE: which outfit will I wear today), if there are no neutrals then shouldn’t I be concerned with trying to always make the ‘right’ choice in even the most mundane situations?

    If you want to chalk this one up to an impass due to my lack of understanding, go ahead. But I really can’t relate to the world without neutral choices you are referring to. I don’t see how God choosing to create (over not creating) dictates this must have been the perfect thing to do simply because God is perfect. To me God can create simply because He wants to, not because He has to. Before my wife and I were married I didn’t have to choose to love her. I could have chosen to love any number of women. It doesn’t seem to be a matter of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ until I actually commit (wherever you define ‘commit’) to one woman.

    Anyhow, I guess I’ll agree to disagree here. Unless you can offer me a better explanation of no neutral decisions… I just don’t understand what you mean here.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    karatemack,

    Why can’t there be neutral choices? Why is one always more ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ than another?

    Because no two choices are ever completely equal.

    …if there are no neutrals then shouldn’t I be concerned with trying to always make the ‘right’ choice in even the most mundane situations?

    As humans we often settle for good enough or aren’t perceptive enough to notice the nuances that differentiate between choices. god does not have this limitation though (although, I’m not sure “limitation” is the correct word).

    But I really can’t relate to the world without neutral choices you are referring to.

    Again, as far as we can tell, they are neutral, but to a god that can see to the infinite degree as well as see the future outcomes of all choices, there can be no neutral choices. Actually, that’s another part of it, the future outcomes. We can’t know what will come of things, so we largely ignore the impact of choices that we feel are neutral, while god fully knows the impact of choices.

    I don’t see how God choosing to create (over not creating) dictates this must have been the perfect thing to do simply because God is perfect.

    It is because you said that god must do only that which is perfect. If god created, it must then be because creating was a part of being perfect.

    To me God can create simply because He wants to, not because He has to.

    It was your own argument that said that god can not do anything that is not perfect that brought us to this. You were the one that said he had to be god and had to be perfect.

    Unless you can offer me a better explanation of no neutral decisions… I just don’t understand what you mean here.

    Let’s do this in a binary way:

    Are any two choices completely equal given the most infinitesimal detail and the impact of future events?

    If you can not say that any two choices are completely equal, can you not assign value to each one?

    Since one will inevitably score higher on the value scale, wouldn’t that make that choice the best one, i.e. the most perfect choice?

    If god has to select the most perfect choice, doesn’t he have to select that most perfect choice based on the value given to the choices?

  • karatemack

    To OMGF:

    “If god has to select the most perfect choice, doesn’t he have to select that most perfect choice based on the value given to the choices?”

    Only when one choice is better than another. I still haven’t accepted your premise that all choices carry value by virtue of having a choice, nor have I accepted the premise that if a choice does possess value that only one option can be ‘perfect’. I still believe some choices have no value, therefore making the results of choosing different the same (both options have a zero value). I also still believe that even when choices do have value, there are times when the value of two different options is equal (if even different but still equal).

  • karatemack

    To OMGF:

    “If god has to select the most perfect choice, doesn’t he have to select that most perfect choice based on the value given to the choices?”

    Only when one choice is better than another. I still haven’t accepted your premise that all choices carry value by virtue of having a choice, nor have I accepted the premise that if a choice does possess value that only one option can be ‘perfect’. I still believe some choices have no value, therefore making the results of choosing different the same (both options have a zero value). I also still believe that even when choices do have value, there are times when the value of two different options is equal (if even different but still equal).

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Two choices can never be equal in value down to the infinite degree. You will never find two ropes of the exact same length to that degree. You will never find two mixes of concrete that are exact to that degree in their composition. Etc. Do you dispute this?

    If not, why can we not say that since each one is different that it is possible to evaluate each one on a value scale? The one with the highest value would always be the most perfect choice, hence the choice that god must take.

  • karatemack

    “You will never find two ropes of the exact same length to that degree. You will never find two mixes of concrete that are exact to that degree in their composition. Etc. Do you dispute this?”

    Well, in the examples you give… no. But having a situation where two equal choices exist is not the same as all choices being equal. I realize you were making an analogy, but the length of rope or component in a mixture has to do with the intended length or intended result (a specific length of rope or a certain quality of mix).

    Let me try using your rope example. Let’s say I wanted some rope. I don’t care how much I just want some rope. I could take an inch of rope, or I could take a foot of rope. No matter what quantity of rope I choose to take, I perfectly accomplish my intended purpose (to have rope) all the same. This is all I’m saying. There would be no ‘perfect’ amount of rope to have as it is besides the point. There is only the having of the rope (in terms of mattering towards perfection in accomplishment of my goal) which can be accomplished by obtaining any infinate number of possible lengths of rope.

    Will you argue that one solution makes me possess rope more than another? (IE: If I have an inch of rope instead of a foot will you say that I somehow accomplished “having rope” with the inch and yet failed with the foot?)

  • Brad

    I am picking up on the gist of the arguments mid-drift here. I realize this discussion isn’t about the original article’s topic, but I think it is still fruitful to still engage in it where we are. But not the hair-splitting over perfectly choosing neutrals… let’s just drop that one. Like karatemack said,

    I’m really tired of this topic of things and we don’t seem to be getting anywhere.

    Now, karatemack, you said:

    While it is true that God does everything perfectly, this does not mean that God cannot [incorporate] imperfect beings into His perfect plan.

    Even disregarding the meaning of “omnipotence,” I have to dispute this statement. (Or at least my perhaps-too-broad interpretation of it.) When a parent allows a child to make an important choice and the child screws it up, even if the parent predicted the child would screw up it does not mean the parent wished or planned for the child to do so. The parent merely wished for the child to have the choice. This applies similarly to God.

    This also builds up my “Problem of Souls” a little bit further. If God gave us free will, then he gave us the choice to go against his wishes for us. The backbone of POE theodicies is that bad choices must have real implications – and this principle is perfectly applicable in this case. So we can infer that effects of bad choices will linger in the world. Rapidly accumulating “errors” in the universe would taint and corrupt the system until the world is beyond comparison with God’s wishes for it. Eventually, there will be “illegitimate” people – people who would not have existed if everybody had acted according to God’s wishes. God did not personally intend for those people to have existed, but he had foreseen their arrival into the universe and created souls anyway. Isn’t that a quirky oddity?

    Now I have an interesting Enlightenment value I want to touch upon.

    I guess that’s an appeal to authority. So what? If someone with authority has spoken, then we should give heavy consideration to the things they have said.

    I have my own appeal to religious authority; it is from Siddhārtha Gautama, also known as the Buddha:

    Believe nothing because a wise man said it.

    Believe nothing because it is generally held.

    Believe nothing because it is written.

    Believe nothing because it is said to be divine.

    Believe nothing because someone else believes it.

    But believe only what you yourself know to be true.

    Questioning mathematics is one thing. Questioning your political science professor is another. And questioning religious proclaimers of all stripes is a whole other ballfield.

  • Brad

    I am picking up on the gist of the arguments mid-drift here. I realize this discussion isn’t about the original article’s topic, but I think it is still fruitful to still engage in it where we are. But not the hair-splitting over perfectly choosing neutrals… let’s just drop that one. Like karatemack said,

    I’m really tired of this topic of things and we don’t seem to be getting anywhere.

    Now, karatemack, you said:

    While it is true that God does everything perfectly, this does not mean that God cannot [incorporate] imperfect beings into His perfect plan.

    Even disregarding the meaning of “omnipotence,” I have to dispute this statement. (Or at least my perhaps-too-broad interpretation of it.) When a parent allows a child to make an important choice and the child screws it up, even if the parent predicted the child would screw up it does not mean the parent wished or planned for the child to do so. The parent merely wished for the child to have the choice. This applies similarly to God.

    This also builds up my “Problem of Souls” a little bit further. If God gave us free will, then he gave us the choice to go against his wishes for us. The backbone of POE theodicies is that bad choices must have real implications – and this principle is perfectly applicable in this case. So we can infer that effects of bad choices will linger in the world. Rapidly accumulating “errors” in the universe would taint and corrupt the system until the world is beyond comparison with God’s wishes for it. Eventually, there will be “illegitimate” people – people who would not have existed if everybody had acted according to God’s wishes. God did not personally intend for those people to have existed, but he had foreseen their arrival into the universe and created souls anyway. Isn’t that a quirky oddity?

    Now I have an interesting Enlightenment value I want to touch upon.

    I guess that’s an appeal to authority. So what? If someone with authority has spoken, then we should give heavy consideration to the things they have said.

    I have my own appeal to religious authority; it is from Siddhārtha Gautama, also known as the Buddha:

    Believe nothing because a wise man said it.

    Believe nothing because it is generally held.

    Believe nothing because it is written.

    Believe nothing because it is said to be divine.

    Believe nothing because someone else believes it.

    But believe only what you yourself know to be true.

    Questioning mathematics is one thing. Questioning your political science professor is another. And questioning religious proclaimers of all stripes is a whole other ballfield.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    karatemack,
    Again, you have to think bigger. Why does this perfect being desire rope? To accomplish a purpose? A perfect being would desire a specific length of rope, and only getting that exact length would be perfect. Anything more or less would be less than perfect. So, no, an inch of rope would not be equal to a foot of rope.

  • karatemack

    @OMGF:

    You are perhaps thinking too broadly. The argument is whether or not a neutral choice can exist. Suppossing that a being simply wants rope to have rope, they could then choose from any number of neutral options of ‘how much’ rope to have. This creates a situation with a neutral set of possibilites.

    “A perfect being would desire a specific length of rope, and only getting that exact length would be perfect.”

    You know… I am wondering if the question (mine) isn’t flawed because it is asked from our perspective. Because we can only experience and understand desire (motivation) from the perspective of imperfect beings. For example: If God created from the motivation to display His creativity, then God could have created any number of plants and animals (even those who don’t exist) and creation could still have bee ‘perfectly the way God wanted it’. God didn’t have to desire to create a certain number of animals, the creative process is free, therefore God was free to choose in certain neutral matters. There didn’t have to be some ‘functional’ purpose for creation, only the purpose of expressing creativity.

    I guess you could now argue that God had to keep on creating until His creativity was perfectly expressed? I would counter that God only had to keep on creating until He expressed His creativity to the degree that He had choosen to. God is bound to be God. But that doesn’t mean we must project our own base motives and desires upon God when we don’t understand an alternative. God is bound only to be God, not to be our perception of what God is.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    You are perhaps thinking too broadly.

    I disagree. A perfect being would have to think about all the ramifications of all choices in order to be perfect. A desire to have rope would be incomplete unless accompanied by the rationale for having that rope and the circumstances involved in what that rope is to do. Added to that would be all the choices leading up to and resulting from the choice of rope and all the circumstances and consequences of all of those choices, etc. To a perfect being, there would be no single decision of wanting rope and not caring how long it is.

    You know… I am wondering if the question (mine) isn’t flawed because it is asked from our perspective. Because we can only experience and understand desire (motivation) from the perspective of imperfect beings.

    I would agree with that.

    For example: If God created from the motivation to display His creativity, then God could have created any number of plants and animals (even those who don’t exist) and creation could still have bee ‘perfectly the way God wanted it’.

    To nitpick just a little bit more, being perfect is not necessarily equal to being “perfectly the way god wanted it.”

    God didn’t have to desire to create a certain number of animals, the creative process is free, therefore God was free to choose in certain neutral matters. There didn’t have to be some ‘functional’ purpose for creation, only the purpose of expressing creativity.

    Technically, a perfect being shouldn’t have desires, period. A perfect being shouldn’t have to create in order to express his creativity. Regardless, you’re still looking at things from a limited view-point. It’s not so much that god simply wanted to create and it didn’t matter what or how much was created, because that would be less than perfect. god, being perfect, is required to think through every single facet and create only perfectly, in perfect proportions, in perfect amounts, etc. You don’t seem to understand the extent to which perfection has to go, which is into every single facet of everything!

    I would counter that God only had to keep on creating until He expressed His creativity to the degree that He had choosen to.

    And, this is why I warned above that perfect to how god wanted it isn’t necessarily the same as perfect in an omni-sense. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of what it would mean to be perfect in all things. We have trouble with this notion, just as we have trouble with the notion of infinity. Perfection is all-encompassing. You can’t de-couple choices from each other and still maintain perfection for the being in question.

  • karatemack

    @OMGF:

    What if God is perfection itself? What if God not only possesses love but IS love? What if it is the same with perfection? Then in a certain sense, whatever amount God declares or wants of anything de facto becomes the perfect amount. :P

    Anyway, I don’t see every action as a choice between perfect and imperfect while I know I haven’t convinced you, you haven’t convinced me either. Unless a paradigm shift occurs for either one of us, then I doubt we will ever agree.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Two words:
    Euthyphro’s dilemma.

    Anyway, I don’t see every action as a choice between perfect and imperfect while I know I haven’t convinced you, you haven’t convinced me either. Unless a paradigm shift occurs for either one of us, then I doubt we will ever agree.

    Probably not, but logically speaking my position is correct.

  • Brad

    Alright, can we end this? The controversy between you two is merely about definitions here:

    What if God is perfection itself?

    If “perfect” means without theoretical improvement, then neutral choices can be perfect. If perfect means the ideal, “better” than all other choices, then neutral choices are not perfect.

    In order to qualify the nature of a “perfect” being, the definition of the word requires further elaboration. The definition should be independent of perspective, and agreed upon by all parties before any meaningful discussion can be had. Unless this is the case (which it obviously isn’t), you are just throwing linguistic intuitions at each other, and it’s been totally unproductive.

  • karatemack

    @Brad:

    Thank you for saying it better than I did.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    I think we’re pretty much done here, right?